ORLANDO, Fla. — When it comes to air travel, over the years we’ve seen it all. Everything from pigs to hedgehogs to peacocks and even “snakes on a plane” have been onboard with their owners, who insist they are emotional support animals.
Beginning Monday, the rules for flying with service animals and emotional support animals are changing at Orlando International Airport and around the county.
Under the new rules established by the Department of Transportation, only dogs are considered service animals. Airlines will no longer have to consider emotional support animals as service animals. Passengers will also be required to submit a federal form to their airline, attesting to the animal’s training and good behavior as well as certifying the animal’s good health.
The Department of Transportation found most of the animal related incidents of bad behavior on airplanes were from emotional support animals or animals that the owners claimed were emotional support animals.
Under the new rules only dogs, of any breed or type, can be considered service animals, and they must perform work or a task to help someone with a disability.
“I need a dog to help me because I don’t have full function of my hands. So if I drop something, it’s very difficult to pick things up,” said Mel Graves, who just got her new service dog Kawaski on Monday.
Janet Severt, who runs “New Horizons Service Dogs” in Volusia County, watched carefully as the U.S. Department of Transportation rolled out new rules for service animals on planes.
Severt, says she also relies on service dog, Wyland, to be her “arms and legs.”
“Too many people have taken advantage of the situation, and it’s just ruined it for now for everybody,’ Severt said.
Severt believes it could hurt some people with legitimate needs, but agrees it needed to be done. She says with many of the animals not really trained, it was a danger for her and her dog.
According to the rule, airlines will be allowed to recognize emotional support animals as pets, rather than service animals.
Those traveling with service or emotional support animals should contact their airline directly for specific guidelines.
See the full final rule on traveling with service animals below:
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