Are emotional support animals allowed on flights? For a woman trying to board a United Airlines flight with her emotional support peacock at Newark International
Airport on Saturday (Jan. 27), the answer was no.
The airline cited weight and size restrictions, among other reasons, in refusing to
allow the exotic bird to board. But the story brings to light the growing number of
passengers accompanied by trained service animals or emotional support animals, federal
guidelines regarding their accommodations and those who must serve these animals and
their handlers, even when it’s not clear if the animal is a true support or service
animal, or just a pet.
Larry Phillippe, managing director of Texas Tech University’s Student Disability Services, is available to speak about the differences between the two types of animals and
federal laws that address their accommodations. He also can comment on measures businesses
are taking to protect themselves, like new requirements introduced by Delta Airlines in response to an increase in reported animal incidents,
including urination, defecation and attacks on flights.
Larry Phillippe, managing director of Student Disability Services and Texas Tech University
Americans with Disabilities Act Campus Coordinator, (806) 742-2405 or email@example.com
- There are several differences between emotional support animals and trained service
animals, and the federal guidelines regarding their accommodations.
- Misrepresenting a pet as an emotional support animal or trained service animal can
lead to jail time and fines, and hurts those who have a genuine need for their animals.
- Businesses are restricted by law in what they can ask about these animals, but accommodating
fake service or emotional support animals is also a risk because untrained animals
can cause safety, health or disruption issues.
- “A trained service animal is only ever a dog, period. In general, anything that can
be permitted as a pet can also be classified as an emotional support animal. A service
animal is trained to do a specific task, while emotional support animals are only
present for emotional comfort and support. They are not trained to do anything.”
- “Trained service animals are covered the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Emotional
support animals are covered under Fair Housing Act as an approved living accommodation
in a residence. The Air Carrier AccessAct actually applies to both types of animals
and was created to take state laws into account, as some states have very specific
rules about emotional support animals and service animals-in-training. That’s where
a lot of the confusion is – people think the laws all address the same thing, and
- “The problem now is people abusing the system simply because they want to take their
pet wherever they go. There are people who truly need emotional support animals to
handle issues from a mental health standpoint, but others have figured out if they
claim their animal is an emotional support animal, they are exempt from things like
pet deposits or can take their animal on a plane free of charge.”
- “The biggest problem is an extreme amount of animosity toward people who genuinely
need these animals. It is creating a headache in terms of extra paperwork and leading
to things like public outbursts when people see an animal accommodated. The only way
to get it under control is to step back, study and have a better understanding of
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Student Disability Services promotes each student's learning experience by providing
programs and services for students with disabilities and education of the campus community
on issues related to students' disabilities.