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Pet Talk: What are the rules for traveling with animals?

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Pet Talk: What are the rules for traveling with animals?

DEAR PET TALK: What are the rules regarding traveling with animals? Wanderlust

DEAR WANDERLUST: Not long ago, I happened to travel to California next to a fellow with a cat in a carrier—he was transporting the feline for his girlfriend, which was an act of great devotion, I thought at the time.

There is more sensitivity regarding pets staying with owners on a plane trip, versus being treated as luggage to be stowed with the suitcases. However, as of 2021, the airlines have tightened their policies regarding air-travel with pets.

You probably read a lot of crazy stories about people who got on a plane with their “emotional support” mini pony, goose or pig. Well, the airlines no longer consider an emotional support animal as a service animal. However, Service Animals, per federal Americans With Disabilities Act are permitted, but the federal Department of Transportation has restricted species, so only service dogs are considered a “service animal.”

The ADA does recognize service animals for psychiatric support, by the way. Other rules regarding check-in, advance paperwork, etc. have been implemented.

Why has this happened? Service dogs are trained to do their work in a variety of environments, including those that are unpredictable, chaotic, or restricted in square footage. Think of what modern air travel is like: long lines, various checkpoints, and then the ever-diminishing space inside the aircraft.

ESAs are trained to look after their human’s well-being. Too many of them were stressed-out while traveling which resulted in noise, accidents and other sanitary issues. Plus, uncrated animals could pose a health hazard to individuals with allergies — who had made their views known to the airlines. If you are flying and wish to be accompanied by your four-legged friend, contact your airline for specific information and instructions.

Sally Cragin is the director of Be PAWSitive: Therapy Pets and Community Education. Visit the organization on Facebook and text questions to 978-320-1335

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