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How Traveling has Changed for Emotional Support Animals

On December 2nd, 2020 the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a change to their Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation declared that Airlines no longer need to treat an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) as a Service Animal. They are two different types of working animals and one of them can now ride in the cabin for free and the other is treated like a pet and will need to be caged and paid for, in order to ride in the plane. If your pet doesn’t fit under the seat, they will need to go in the cargo area of the plane, if that airline allows it. Airlines will now be charging fees to transport your ESA as a pet, Pet transportation fees range from $99 - $200 each way. There are other ways you can transport your pet but flying with them in cargo is still going to be the fastest way to be reunited with them. There are many pet transportation companies out there that will help you transport your pet and help you outfit your pet with whatever they might need for their journey.

Most all major airlines operating in the United States have changed their regulations to recognize ESAs as pets. There are however a few smaller airlines that have stated that they will continue to recognize ESAs as Service Animals.

The new regulation also states that the airlines can limit service animals to just Canines and no Felines or any other species, but they cannot discriminate against any breed of dog. Airlines also must treat Psychiatric Service Animals as regular Service Animals. Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

An Emotional Support Animal is an animal that provides support for those suffering from mental or emotional distress. Examples of mental or emotional distress can be anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or other psychological and emotional conditions

The major difference between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal is a Service Animal is trained to perform specific tasks to assist its owner and an ESA is there to provide emotional and mental support but does not need to have any specialized training.

The housing regulations set up by the Fair Housing Act have not changed, however. Hotels, as a temporary dwelling, are not required to recognize ESAs as Service Animals. While rental properties are required to treat ESAs as Service Animals and therefore cannot charge additional pet fees and pet deposits this includes Vacation Homes and Airbnbs. The owner, however, is responsible for cleaning up after the animal and repairing any damage caused by the animal.

Contact Travel. Adventure. Wanderlust. for assistance in traveling with your pet. We will do the research for you and give you a checklist so you can know what you might need to pack for your pet, and what you might need from your veterinarian for whatever type of transportation that you chose for your pet.

Travel. Adventure. Wanderlust.


Photo by Egor Gordeev on UnSplash

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