Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rules on Travel with Emotional Support Animals are Discriminatory

On May 13, 2009, the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Air Carrier Access Act revised regulations went into effect. These rules for the first time applied U.S. nondiscrimination provisions on foreign air carriers with flights the originate in the U.S.

However, another provision of the regulations requires a uniquely high level of documentation from individuals who seek to board aircraft with psychiatric service animals or emotional support dogs.

These rules demand written documentation, such as a note from a mental health professional testifying to the need for the animal to accompany the passenger, 48 hours in advance for both psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals to be allowed on an aircraft. This is not required for service animals of people with disabilities that are not psychiatric in nature.

Seeing the regulations as discriminatory to people with mental illnesses, the Psychiatric Service Dog Society attempted to stop the rule a few months before it went into effect, but was not successful.

However, on September 18, 2009, the Department issued a new request for comments, based on the Psychiatric Service Dog Society's letters urging repeal on the rules.

DOT is seeking comments from the public on whether it should begin a new rulemaking on this practice. They are particularly seeking comments from the public on how the rule, which has been in effect since May 13, 2009, is working or not working.

The deadline for comments is December 17, 2009.

The make your voice heard, visit DOT's special input page to view and comment on the rules:

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