NEW YORK (77WABC) – Leave your peacock, pig, and pony home next time you travel because the government has decided that when it comes to air travel, only dogs can be service animals for physical, mental or emotional support.
The final rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals defines a service animal as “a dog, regardless of breed or type, 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.”
The Transportation Department issued the final rule Wednesday that aims to settle years of tension between airlines and passengers who bring their pets on board for free by saying they need them for emotional support.
For years, the department required airlines to allow animals on board with passengers who had a doctor’s note saying they needed the animal for emotional support. Airlines as well as other passengers believe the rule has been abused.
The agency said it was rewriting the rules because many passengers who abused the privilege “eroded the public trust in legitimate service animals.” It also cited the increasing frequency of people “fraudulently representing their pets as service animals,” and a rise in misbehavior by supposed emotional support animals.
The new rule will force passengers with emotional-support animals to check them into the cargo hold and pay a pet fee or leave them at home. The agency estimated airlines will gain up to $59.6 million a year in pet fees.
The rule will take effect in 30 days.