US airlines will no longer be required to transport emotional support animalsafter passengers insisted on bringing on board their horses, pigs, peacocksand turkeys for psychological reasons.

Wednesday’s rule change by the US Department of Transportation now says onlydogs qualify as service animals.

The agency said unusual animals on flights had “eroded the public trust inlegitimate service animals”.

Airlines say the old policy had been abused and was dangerous.

The new rule defines service dogs as “individually trained to do work orperform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability”, and says otheranimals should be treated by airlines as pets that can be placed in the cargohold for a fee.

Previously, the federal government had no law regarding emotional supportanimals, which effectively required airlines to accommodate them as serviceanimals despite complaints from passengers. Unlike pets, they were allowed totravel for free under the law known as the Air Carrier Access Act.

The review process drew around 15,000 public comments to the transportationdepartment, the agency said.

Trade group Airlines for America estimates that the number of emotionalsupport animals on commercial flights jumped from 481,000 in 2016 to 751,000in 2017.

“The Department of Transportation’s final rule will protect the travellingpublic and airline crewmembers from untrained animals in the cabin, as well asimprove air travel accessibility for passengers with disabilities that travelwith trained service dogs,” Airlines for America President Nicholas E Caliosaid in a statement.

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not required to havebeen trained to perform a specific task. There have been several incidents ofunruly animals causing injuries to passengers and flights crews. Some of thoseincidents have led to lawsuits.

US airlines will no longer be required to transport emotional support animalsafter passengers insisted on bringing on board their horses, pigs, peacocksand turkeys for psychological reasons.

Wednesday’s rule change by the US Department of Transportation now says onlydogs qualify as service animals.

The agency said unusual animals on flights had “eroded the public trust inlegitimate service animals”.

Airlines say the old policy had been abused and was dangerous.

The new rule defines service dogs as “individually trained to do work orperform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability”, and says otheranimals should be treated by airlines as pets that can be placed in the cargohold for a fee.

Previously, the federal government had no law regarding emotional supportanimals, which effectively required airlines to accommodate them as serviceanimals despite complaints from passengers. Unlike pets, they were allowed totravel for free under the law known as the Air Carrier Access Act.

The review process drew around 15,000 public comments to the transportationdepartment, the agency said.

Trade group Airlines for America estimates that the number of emotionalsupport animals on commercial flights jumped from 481,000 in 2016 to 751,000in 2017.

“The Department of Transportation’s final rule will protect the travellingpublic and airline crewmembers from untrained animals in the cabin, as well asimprove air travel accessibility for passengers with disabilities that travelwith trained service dogs,” Airlines for America President Nicholas E Caliosaid in a statement.

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not required to havebeen trained to perform a specific task. There have been several incidents ofunruly animals causing injuries to passengers and flights crews. Some of thoseincidents have led to lawsuits.

The ruling specifically says that a dog’s breed should not be a factor in anairline’s requirement to accommodate the service animal. Delta Airlinescurrently has a policy in place that forbids “pitbull-type dogs” that may beforced to change under the new government policy.

The decision was quickly applauded by airline industries, which have beentrying for years to change the rule, and airline employee unions.

“The days of Noah’s Ark in the air are hopefully coming to an end,”Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson told USA Today onWednesday.

Image: An emotional support peacock was turned away from a New Jersey airportin 2018

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