Leading Service Dog Provider Urges Changes in Laws for Animals on Planes

February 28, 2020
Service dog opening door with tug rope

SANTA ROSA, California- The positive impact that trained service dogs can make in the lives of individuals with disabilities is undeniable. But challenges arise when people take advantage of fuzzy language in the laws to bring untrained pets into public spaces, including on planes. In response to these challenges, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a call for public comment for the Proposed Rulemaking regarding air travel with service animals.

Canine Companions for Independence, the largest provider of service dogs for people with disabilities, has seen the impact misbehaving “service” animals have on legitimate service dog users, including their clients. A recent survey of 549 clients showed that 78% have experienced an uncontrolled dog that interfered with, distracted, snapped at, bit, and/or vocalized at their service dog in public places where pet dogs aren’t allowed. Similarly, 42% have experienced these types of encounters in airports.

Canine Companions® has responded to the request for public comment and supports aligning the DOT definition of a “service animal” with the Department of Justice’s Americans with Disabilities Act. Simultaneously, Canine Companions urges the DOT to consider more options for individuals who want to travel by air with pets in order to reduce the number of passengers circumventing the law by fraudulently misrepresenting pets as service dogs.

“Significant changes are required to the current law to protect individuals with disabilities who travel with service dogs,” says Canine Companions CEO Paige Mazzoni. “On behalf of all service dog users, including our clients, we are grateful for the opportunity to comment on the proposed amendments to the ACAA. Everything from guidelines on emotional support animals to the size limits of service dogs have significant impact on people who rely on task-trained service dogs.”

The public is encouraged to comment on the proposed rulemaking before April 6, 2020.