The Feds Want You To Leave Your Emotional Support Animals At Home

Illustration for article titled The Feds Want You To Leave Your Emotional Support Animals At Home
Image: Jason Tochinsky

Flying is already hell, and the fascists at the U.S. Department of Transportation want to make everything even more stressful by proposing some new rules “to amend the definition of a service animal in air transportation and includes safeguards to ensure safety and reduce the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim that their pets are service animals.”


These new rules changes were announced Wednesday, and according to Bloomberg, would ban all emotional support animals from flying. The transportation department wants to crack down on fliers abusing a service animal loophole which allows trained service animals to travel free of charge, whereas people have to pay to bring along their pets. This has lead to chaos, with a zany assortment of critters being claimed as support animals.

Passengers have attempted to fly with many different unusual species of animals, such as a peacock, ducks, turkeys, pigs, iguanas, and various other types of animals as emotional support or service animals, causing confusion for airline employees and additional scrutiny for service animal users.

Listen, my emotional support turkey Alice has gotten me through some hard times, Delta. I need her. We need each other. Not only are there obvious safety concerns (a man on a flight in 2016 was attacked by a support animal and required 28 stitches, according to the BBC) but allowing pets, rather than trained service animals, to slide under the radar as “support animals” erodes the public’s faith in actual support animals that disable people require to get around day-to-day.

Here’s the definitive regulation from the DOT itself:

The proposed amendments are intended to ensure that our air transportation system is safe for the traveling public and accessible to individuals with disabilities. Specifically, the Department proposes to define a service animal, under its ACAA regulations in 14 CFR Part 382, as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

The new rules would require owners of support animals to sign a waiver attesting to their animals’ training and good health, and any owner caught lying could be subject to jail time. There is widespread support for the rule changes within the aviation community, with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA saying in a statement that “the days of Noah’s Ark in the air are hopefully coming to an end.”

This proposed rule change is personally frustrating for me, as I’m sure it is for all of you. Alice might be a flightless bird, but I’m not, so she’s going to end up missing our annual trip to the Bahamas. My emotional support turkey got a base tan for nothing. Thanks a lot.

Managing Editor of Jalopnik.