There’s a lot of confusion surrounding Emotional Support Animals (ESA’s) and whether they’re allowed on airplanes. This blog will help clear up any misconceptions you may have and provide some clarity on the rules surrounding ESA’s and flight catching.
The good news is that as of January 2020, ESA’s are generally allowed on airplanes. However, it's not as easy as stepping on the plane with your animal. There is a protocol you are expected to follow.
Where ESA’s provide emotional support for certain mental health issues such as PTSD or depression, service animals provide aid and assistance to people with physical disabilities. Because ESA’s are very different than service animals, the rules for allowing ESA’s on flights are a lot stricter.
When it comes to taking your ESA onto your flight, each airline has its rules. In most cases, as long as the proper paperwork is filled out, you’re good to go. Also, while many airlines draw the line at allowing any other animal other than cats and dogs on board, some airlines are a little more flexible. These include United, Delta, and Southwest to name a few.
Furthermore, you’ll need to have official documentation on you at all times, proving your animal is an ESA and not simply a beloved pet. You can get this documentation from your doctor- but more on this below.
It's common for emotional support animals and service dogs to get confused with each other. Most people assume that their qualities overlap, but in reality they are two distinct animals.
An ESA, better known as an emotional support animal, is an animal that provides therapeutic support to its owner. A service dog, on the other hand, is a dog that has been trained to perform special tasks for individuals who have disabilities.
Note that it's illegal to misrepresent your emotional support dog as a service animal, so it's important to understand the difference.
Attempting to pass your emotional service dog off as a service dog, even if unintentionally, can have harmful consequences. While there is the issue of legality, there is also the issue of presentation. If someone is trying to claim that their emotional support dog is in fact a service dog to be allowed in a certain establishment, this can affect any surrounding people and the reputation of service dogs in general.
Service dogs receive specific training, which emotional support dogs are not required to have. If your dog misbehaves while trying to pass as a service dog, this makes it harder for individuals with actual service dogs to easily be allowed to go where they need to.
This new world of social distancing, face masks, and worrying about the spread of the new Coronavirus is not an easy one to navigate. For many, this new world might be impossible to face without the support of our pets. These furry family members receive our adoration and love regularly – so concern over the spread of the virus and potential risk to animals is understandable.
Dogs are man's best friend for a reason. They tend to be super loyal and protective. They also provide unconditional support, comfort, and love.
Many owners appreciate this love so much that they don't want to keep it all for themselves. If you want to share your pup's love with others, you can!
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