The U.S. Department of Transportation may soon limit which emotional support animals will be allowed in jetliner cabins during flights.
A rule proposed by the government body that oversees air travel would allow carriers to prohibit pets labeled as emotional support animals, while still allowing professionally trained service dogs, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Airlines have been required to allow emotional support animals to be treated as service animals, allowing them to fly for free, instead of paying fees associated with taking animals on planes.
Some passengers have said animals like squirrels or peacocks provide emotional support, but the new rules would limit it to dogs only, NPR reported. The regulations would be similar to the definition spelled out by the Department of Justice and the Americans with Disabilities Act, The New York Times reported.
If the rule passes, not only will air carriers be able to ban some support animals, passengers would have to fill out a federal form proving the animal has been trained and is healthy. If a passenger falsifies the form, they could face fines or a jail term, according to the Times.
United Airlines already has similar regulations in place, NPR reported.
The proposed regulations allow passengers with psychiatric disorders who have a service animal to be able to bring their dog on a flight, but it has to be trained similarly to the animals that help owners who have physical issues, NPR reported.
Passengers who say they depend on their animals for emotional support to deal with mental health issues say they should not have restrictions placed on them, but disability rights groups and mental health professionals say that emotional support animals that are untrained could pose a danger.
Airline officials had more than 3,000 complaints in 2018 about animals biting passengers, defecating or urinating during a flight or fighting with other pets, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The public can comment for 60 days on the proposed regulations.
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