Animals in the cabin are an ever-growing phenomenon. This is an upward trend that – while it shows no sign of stopping – is proving to be divisive. Forbes reports that Congress has successfully passed legislation that could see the DOT amend its rules pertaining to the carriage of service animals.
Animals in the cabin are an ever-growing phenomenon. According to Forbes, during the course of 2017, one million service animals – over three quarters of which are said to be classed as emotional support animals (ESAs) – were transported by the nation’s airlines. This figure, the outlet reports, is set to grow, but ESAs are a divisive issue.
While trained animals such as seeing-eye dogs offer a legitimate service to the passengers they support, Forbes highlights the fact that this sudden proliferation of animals in the cabin isn’t without consequences. In addition to concerns over passengers passing off their pets as service animals in order to dodge fees or a journey in a cargo hold, the outlet also explains that the behavior displayed by some animals both is worrying.
“Airlines report that ESAs frequently urinate, defecate, occupy seats (instead of remaining in the passenger’s foot space), and eat off tray tables. Even worse, ESAs have scratched, growled and barked at other service animals (e.g., seeing-eye dogs), flight attendants, gate agents, and other passengers. Most troubling of all, ESAs have bitten or attacked other passengers, including children, airline employees, and other service animals,” Forbes states.
As the outlet goes on to explain, carriers and airlines are limited in the tools that they can use to vet legitimate service animals from more fraudulent cases. In light of this issue, however, Congress has succeeded in passing legislation that could see the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) amend its regulation pertaining to service animals.
This, importantly would bring these rules in-line with a wider network of federal regulations, including those enforced in “places of public accommodation throughout the U.S., including stores, hotels, stadiums, airports, and other modes of transportation.”
The outlet reports that the DOT’s decision, which is expected to come in 2019, could offer a compromise between those who have a legitimate need to use a service animal while preventing service animal-related fraud.