New Ruling Cracks Down on Emotional Support Animals on Planes

New Ruling Cracks Down on Emotional Support Animals on Planes

Richard Atrero de Guzman/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesIn a long-awaited ruling, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on Dec. 2, 2020, that \"carriers are not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets.\" This ruling came after a skyrocketing number of pets flying as service and \"emotional support animals\" (ESAs) — up 150 percent between 2015 and 2017, according to Delta — had prompted the airline and others to enact more stringent requirements for on-board animals. \"The research on the positive impact that emotional support animals have on people who are struggling with mental illness is pretty plentiful,\" says psychologist Tanisha Ranger, who works mainly with veterans. Many passengers looking to avoid this fee had started to classify their pets as emotional support animals. And when untrained animals attack innocent bystanders, it further creates stigma for those who actually need service animals.\"

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