DOT has defined a service animal specifically as a trained dog.

Need an emotional support hamster, cat, or ferret to make it through a flight? Unfortunately, that may longer be allowed as the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on Wednesday that it will be changing the rules regarding what is considered a service animal.

In a press release, the department explained the changes to the current Animal Carrier Access Act. The change will allow airlines to deny passengers the ability to travel with support animals other than dogs.

A few key takeaways from the announcement:

  • A service animal is now defined as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.
  • No longer considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal.
  • Requires airlines to treat psychiatric service animals the same as other service animals.
  • Airlines may limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals.
  • Airlines can require that service animals be always harnessed, leashed, or tethered in the airport and on the aircraft. 
  • Airlines may not require passengers with a disability, who are traveling with a service animal, to physically check-in at the airport, instead of using the online check-in process.
  • Airlines continue to have the right to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

You can read the full rule change here

The new rules will take effect 30 days after the final ruling is published in the Federal Register. That date has yet to be announced. 

What do you think about the new rules from the DOT on emotional support animals? Will this affect how you travel in the future? Sound off in the comments.