We have recently been inundated with news stories about peacocks, turkeys and other assorted creatures, who are joining or attempting to join us on airline flights.
Not surpringly, this has occasionally resulted in conflicts between humans v. animals, animals v. animals and humans v. humans. Although these instances are relativly rare, the negative publicity casts a shadow on people with disabilities who genuinely need those animals in order to access airplanes.
It doesn‘t help that there is also tremendous misinformation out there about what the law actually says. That’s why it was refreshing to come across an article by the Washington Post that explains the issues in a very clear and easy-to-read style.
One of the most important points made is the following:
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limits the definition of “service animals“ to dogs and miniature horses, this is not true with the airline industry, which is covered by a different law – The Airline Carrier Aviation Act (ACAA). Under that law, airlines are required to allow certain other animals on board. This is because unlike the ADA, the ACAA covers what are called “emotional support animals,“ animals that are not there to perform specific tasks, but whose job is to generally ease anxiety and provide a degree of security to their handlers.
Without these animals, some passengers with disabilities may not be able to access airplanes. And since accessibility is the heart and soul of all disability laws, it must be fiercely protected.
The US Department of Transportation has recently issued proposed rules to add more restrictions on animals aboard airlines. In a subsequent post, I will discuss what I consider to be the pros and cons of these rules. In the meantime, I have provided links both to these rules and to the Washington Post article.