A new rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation ends years of dispute over service pets versus emotional support pets and which can fly through the Atlanta airport and other U.S. airports. And the rule requires papers.
Effective around Christmas 2020, a new DOT rule defines just what qualifies as a service pet at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and others.
The DOT now defines a service animal as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.” Emotional support animals are now prohibited to be a service animal, though airlines must treat psychiatric service animals the same as other service animals.
If your pet meets the requirements, airlines may ask you to sign forms developed by the DOT attesting to a service animal’s health, behavior and training, and if taking a long flight attesting that the service animal can either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner. And the forms may be required up to 48 hours in advance of the date of travel.
Airlines can also now “require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft.” And airlines can continue to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and that “pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.” Yet airlines remain prohibited from refusing to transport a service animal solely based on breed.
Alternatively, some airlines in Atlanta still permit pets in cargo, which we at Lucky & Lady strongly discourage based on published reports and the potential for drastic temperature changes. Our Beyond Boarding program for dogs and our Cat Stay & Play program for cats is the perfect solution for these important pets that are now prohibited from in-cabin travel.
To read Frequently Asked Questions about this final rule, please click here.