In recent years, airline passengers have brought aboard not just the more common dogs and cats but also miniature ponies, hedgehogs, even a peacock they claimed they needed for emotional support during flights. Now a proposed U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation may revoke that privilege — a move that psychologists say will help stop abuse of the system by passengers who just want to bring their pets along for free.
Under the proposed rule, passengers with physical or psychological disabilities would still be able to bring service animals — dogs only — on board airplanes as long as they can certify that the canines have been trained to perform tasks to help them manage their disabilities. (Individual airlines could decide to allow other species of animals that help people with disabilities into the cabin but would only be required to recognize dogs as service animals under federal law.) Owners would also have to attest to the animal’s health, good behavior and ability to relieve itself in a sanitary manner or hold on until the plane has landed.