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U.S. Department of Transportation Seeks Comment on Amending Regulations Concerning Service Animals on Flights

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (Department) today announced that it is seeking public comment on amending its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on transportation of service animals.  The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on Traveling By Air with Service Animals can be found HERE and provides the public with 45 days during which to offer comments.

Today’s ANPRM is intended to address the significant concerns raised by individuals with disabilities, other members of the public, airlines, flight attendants, airports and other stakeholders regarding service animals on aircraft.  The Department recognizes the integral role that service animals play in the lives of many individuals with disabilities and wants to ensure seamless access to air transportation for individuals with disabilities while also helping to deter the fraudulent use of animals not qualified as service animals.

In this ANPRM, the Department solicits comment on:

  • (1) treating psychiatric service animals similar to other service animals;
     
  • (2) distinguishing between emotional support animals and other service animals;
     
  • (3) requiring emotional support animals to travel in pet carriers for the duration of the flight; 
     
  • (4) limiting the species of service animals and emotional support animals that airlines are required to transport;
     
  • (5) limiting the number of service animals/emotional support animals required to be transported per passenger;
     
  • (6) requiring service animal and emotional support animal users confirm that their animal has been trained to behave in a public setting; 
     
  • (7) requiring service animals and emotional support animals have a harness, leash, or other tether with narrow exceptions;
     
  • (8) limiting the size of emotional support animals or other service animals that travel in the cabin and the potential impact of such a limitation;
     
  • (9) prohibiting airlines from requiring a veterinary health form or immunization record from service animal users without an individualized assessment that the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others or would cause a significant disruption in the aircraft cabin; and
     
  • (10) no longer holding U.S. airlines responsible if a passenger traveling under the U.S. carrier’s code is only allowed to travel with a service dog on a flight operated by its foreign code share partner.

Comments on the ANPRM must be received within 45 days of the date the notice is published.  The ANPRM can be found at regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2018-0068.

Today, the Department also issued an Interim Statement of Enforcement Priorities Regarding Service Animals to inform the public of its intended enforcement focus with respect to transportation of service animals in the cabin.  Given that the service animal issue is currently the subject of an open rulemaking, DOT’s Enforcement Office will focus its enforcement on clear violations of the current rule that have the potential to adversely impact the largest number of persons.

The Department seeks comment on this interim statement, and intends to issue a final statement after the close of the comment period.  Comments on this interim statement must be received within 15 days of the date the statement is published.  The statement can be found at regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2018-0067.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018
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