Lately there have been some disputes over service animals on planes, particularly regarding human safety. One of the most recent incidents being a flight attendant who was bit and needed five stitches. Delta Airlines recently banned “pit-bull type dogs” from their planes due to fears of biting, mauling, and other incidents.
The US Transportation Department has announced that airlines are banned from denying specific animal breeds on their flights. They are allowed to do an inspection of each animal to determine their behavior once they arrive to check-in at the airport.
“The airline does have the authority to do an individualized assessment of any dog, every breed of dog, and if any dog — no matter the breed — is determined to pose, or deemed to pose a risk to the health or safety of other passengers, the airline is free to deny boarding,” said a department official who remained anonymous.
All airlines will have a month to change their policies to adhere to the US Transportation Department’s new order.
The main dilemma is that passengers are certifying their pets as emotional support animals (ESAs) when that is in fact false. They simply want to bring their pet with them when they travel. This violates rules and causes incidents that cause headaches for people who truly need to travel with an animal whether for emotional or service reasons.
“The availability of fraudulent ESA credentials online has enabled people who are not truly in need of animal assistance to abuse the rules and evade airline policies regarding animals in the cabin,” said Airlines for America, an industry group. “With over a million passengers bringing ESAs on flights last year, airlines and airports saw a sharp increase in incidents such as biting and mauling by untrained animals.
Delta is now reviewing and amending their “pit-bull policy.” They also limited each passenger to one ESA only, which is being looked over as well.
“Delta continuously reviews and enhances its policies and procedures for animals onboard as part of its commitment to health, safety and protecting the rights of customers with disabilities,” the airline said in a statement.
Flight attendant unions are upset about the chaos of this situation as well. They believe regulation is “an important step to address what has become a mess of animals loose in the aircraft cabin.”
The integrity of the support animal system is what is most important to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.
“Clear rules are necessary to ensure access to service animal assistance for people with disabilities and our veterans, while maintaining the safety, health and security of all passengers and crew onboard our planes,” the club said.
For information on airlines and their different service animal policies, visit: https://www.servicedogregistration.org/benefits/flying-service-dog/