You may have heard about the passenger who attempted (unsuccessfully) to board an airplane with her “emotional support peacock.”
This and similar instances have heightened public awareness of a most unsavory trend – people boarding airplanes with their pets and avoiding the standard fees by referring to them as “service” or “emotional support” animals.
Among the many problems is that it casts an unfavorable light on people with legitimate disabilities who truly need to be with those animals during airline flights and in other public venues. When properly selected and trained, these animals (almost always dogs) can assist those with vision or hearing problems. They can also open doors, pick up objects, alert their handlers if they sense an epileptic seizure, and provide relief to those with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
To resolve the confusion, several airlines have tightened up their policies on service animals. The U.S. Department of Transportation has also proposed regulations which would provide much clearer standards on what animals can board and what questions can be asked of their handlers.
And some organizations are in the process of creating national service dog registries, which would list only those dogs who have received training and have “graduated” to become legitimate service dogs.
This is an interesting concept and a couple of organizations are planning to launch their registries this fall. For more information, see the link below.
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