DOT Enforces Regs for Service and Emotional Support Animals

DOT Enforces Regs for Service and Emotional Support Animals

Posted by Admin on on 13th Aug 2019

service emotional support dog

UPDATE January, 2020: The Department of Transportation has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and is collecting comments regarding changes to the Airline Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The changes proposed in this amendment is aligning the definition of a service animal to that of the Department of Justice's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA defines a service animal as a dog that is "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Should this amendment pass, all other animals will not be offered protection under the ACAA. 

Service dogs will need to submit documentation developed by the DOT in advance documenting their training and socialization. All dogs will need to be identified, leashed and tethered. Affects on cabin operations for larger service dogs will be identified as well as liability for any damage to the aircraft they may cause. 

The comment period will be for 60 days. Further updates to come.

Since early 2018, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has been reviewing the Airline Carrier Access Act and its implementing regulation, 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382) after much pressure from the airlines regarding fraudulent mis-use of this legislation by owners of so-called emotional support animals. After collecting over 9,400 comments, the DOT has rejected any effort to ban a specific breed from being defined as a service or emotional support animal. Also, the duration of the flight is not grounds to support rejecting service or emotional support animals.

The DOT has supported the airlines' rights to restrict animals less than 4 months old from flying as a service or emotional support animal. It will also support airline restrictions on animal species other than cats, dogs and miniature horses to fly as service or emotional support animals.

Most importantly, the DOT will allow the airlines to request documentation regarding the need for and the training of emotional support animals prior to departure of the flight. Airline procedures regarding confirmation of this documentation will remain in effect.

More information about airline pet policies for service and emotional support animals can be found here:

The full DOT finding can be found by clicking here.