WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Captain Christian Newton hold a puppy that was brought back on his ... <+> Southwest Airlines trip from Puerto Rico ~ above January 20, 2018 in ~ Baltimore Washington global Airport. (Photo by Carolyn van Houten/The Washington article via Getty Images)

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The critical domino has actually fallen. Southwest has end up being the last of the “Big 4” airlines, which regulate 67% the the US domestic market, to half emotional support animals. Trained service dogs space still permitted to take trip in airline cabins.

How many pets fly each year? Delta alone stated it transported in 250,000 emotional support and service dog in that is cabins in 2017.

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Alaska, the number 5 airline by market share, was very first to notice a ban on December 29, 2020. American, top top January 5, Delta, on January 7, and United, January 8, quickly followed.

But Southwest did not announce an emotional support pet ban because that weeks. On January 10, a Southwest spokesperson told this reporter, “Our emotional Support pets policy has actually not changed..” The hold-up led to hope by emotional service animal advocates that Southwest can announce some kind of compromise arrangement.

But top top January 25, Southwest announced its own ban ~ above emotional support animals, calling that a “policy enhancement.” Henceforth, the only pets that will certainly be classified as service animals on Southwest will certainly be trained service dogs with documentation.


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What is one emotional support animal? The American Kennel Club states “Emotional support pets (ESAs) describe dogs and other pet that provide emotional support and also comfort come their owner on a everyday basis. ESAs legally have to be prescribed by a licensed psychological health experienced like a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.” Unfortunately, there has actually been some abuse in the process.

YORK HAVEN, PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED claims - FEBRUARY 5, 2020 - Wally the emotional support alligator"s ... <+> main support animal document. Fulfill Wally - the 5ft, 60lb, federally-licensed emotional support alligator. Owned by Joie Henney, native Pennsylvania, Joie"s home boasts a selection of reptiles, varying from bearded dragons to ball pythons. The reptile that steals the show, however, is the four-year-old Wally, who has actually a special place in Joie"s heart. Joie called Truly: "He"s much from a usual alligator, he loves cuddling and also he loves offering kisses". And having full run that the house, Wally is routinely taken the end for walks to parks, malls and also even restaurants. Joie, who refused to take medication once going with depression, found an excellent relief in interacting with Wally the alligator. Through a hard fan-base, Joie works with volunteers day-to-day to display Wally in schools, birthday parties and other events. PHOTOGRAPHED by Marcus Cooper / Barcroft Studios / Future posting - NOTE: This Photo have the right to Only Be used Within Context v The Information noted In The Metadata (Photo credit must read Marcus Cooper/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

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The AKC definition, published in 2019, adds the “individuals with ESAs room afforded some extr rights, such as the ability to live in otherwise non-pet-friendly real estate under the Fair real estate Act. Additionally, the wait Carrier accessibility Act enables both organization animals and also ESAs to companion their owner in the cabin of one aircraft during flights.”

Emotional support animals are still enabled in “no pet allowed” real estate under the Fair housing Act. However the airlines, citing a flight attendant bitten by one emotional support animal, enlisted an ext than80 organizations in a coordinated project to ban the animals. The airline lobbying team claimed, "Unlike company animals, emotionally support animals can encompass untrained animas favor ducks and pigs—even peacocks,”

The press eagerly join the party. Articles about “fake emotional assistance dogs” that space “a hazard to the public” and the dread (now dead) emotional assistance peacock blasted the beasts—and your owners.

The airline goal to be to persuade the room of transport (DOT) to embrace the an interpretation of service animal from the Americans with Disabilities Act. The is, a dog the is personal trained to do job-related or perform tasks for a human being with a disability.

This December, the DOT, after ~ 15,000 comments from people with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants, airports and also others, claimed it found the information noted by airlines “persuasive.” The DOT claimed “animals being presented to the airline together emotional assistance animals, room responsible because that a significant percentage the the cases of animal misbehavior onboard aircraft.”

A revision of the wait Carrier accessibility Act regulation ~ above the transportation of service pets by air to be announced by DOT. The brand-new rule “defines a service animal as a dog the is personal trained to do work-related or perform jobs for the benefit of a person with a disability,” simply as the airlines requested. Moreover, the period “no much longer considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal.”

“We applaud the room of Transportation’s recent ruling that allows us to make these important alters to resolve numerous concerns raised by the public and airline employees concerning the deliver of untrained animals in the cabins that aircraft,” said Steve Goldberg, an elderly Vice President, Operations and also Hospitality in ~ Southwest.

The press rejoiced. Comments favor “Sorry, yet your emotional assistance hamster is no much longer cleared to paris on Delta wait Lines,” were common. (Most ESA animals are tiny dogs.) Or “every once in a while, it"s quite to be able to write around the end of something,” the being the finish of emotionally support pets on aircraft. The editorial plank of the Dallas Morning News also published an unsigned editorial, “Farewell, emotional assistance kangaroos.”

Capt. Shanda Taylor-Boyd, a 23-year military veteran, becomes emotional and also holds her support dog ... <+> ""Timber"" as Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) speak to the group at the Washington Democrats election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in ~ the Seattle Westin. ""Patty go so lot for ours vets,"" said Taylor-Boyd, that is taking care of PTSD. (Genna Martin, seattlepi.com) (Photo through GENNA MARTIN/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Hearst newspapers via Getty photos

Certainly, websites informing readers “how to register a snake together a assistance animal” did not aid the cause of ESA advocates. But such touchdown celebrations it seems to be ~ questionable, considering that thousands of world with documented mental health obstacles (part that the ESA certification procedure is getting a letter from a psychologist) now should pay $125 pets fees each way. Meanwhile, two of the triumphant airlines, American and also United this mainly warned 27,000 employee about feasible furloughs.

Although abuse that the emotionally support pet designation has actually undoubtedly occurred, also the financial Times published a series of write-ups on “Pet treatment – why pets have come to be our mental-health heroes” throughout COVID-19. The British document noted, “Dogs, cats, snakes and also wild parakeets have actually all play an unforeseen and vital role in helping us through this pandemic.”

And several clinical studies present the worth of emotionally support pets to the wellness of people with mental health issues.

Admittedly, that doesn’t prove ESAs need to be allowed on aircraft. But estimates space that there are much less than 200,000 “real”, the is, trained, company dogs in the U.S. Back the require is good (61 million american live v a disability, 10 million have actually a serious mental illness) the cost of a trained service dog ($20,000 to $60,000) is the end of reach because that many.

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So how will the thousands of world with a recorded need for their emotional support pet travel? There appear to be three choices: don’t fly, leaving the pet home, or salary for her ‘pet.’ American airline says, “Animals that formerly traveled as emotional assistance animals and no much longer qualify together service pets may take trip ascarry-on petsor ascargo pets, as long as they fulfill the requirements.”

American jazz musician Les Paul (1914 - 2009) and his wife, singer and guitarist mary Ford (1924 - ... <+> 1977) prepare to plank an American airlines flagship airplane at Idlewild airport in brand-new York City, bound for the west coast, 8 hours February 1956. They are going to work on a new television series. (Photo by save Photos/Getty Images)

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I"ve won numerous journalism awards, and also my writing on take trip has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, American Way, Southwest airlines Spirit, successful Meetings and also United Hemispheres. At residence in the center seat, I"ve acquired a fistful of take trip reward credit transaction cards, have spent an ext than six months of mine life in ras Vegas hotels and I"ve travel extensively throughout the world. Yet among my favorite travel destinations is Independence, KS, a an excellent American small town, whereby my work-related as a playwright to be performed in ~ the wilhelm Inge Festival.