[Nfbc-info] FW: [seeing-eye] Comments on air travel for service animals
judotina48kg at gmail.com
judotina48kg at gmail.com
Sat Jun 30 18:36:14 UTC 2018
Subject: [seeing-eye] Comments on air travel for service animals
Good morning all,
I am wondering if anyone plans to give input on what the Department of Transportation should do about air travel and the problem with service and emotional support animals. The Seeing Eye’s comment is posted on regulations.gov (see below) but out of almost 2,500 comments, I’ve only seen a few from guide dog users. This surprised me because I have seen lots of complaints about out of control animals at the airports from Seeing Eye graduates as well as handlers from other schools. We do have until July 9th to submit comments so maybe everyone’s waiting until the last minute?
Public Comment on Service Animal ANPRM, The Seeing Eye
To: The U.S. Department of Transportation
From: The Seeing Eye, Inc.
Re: DOT-OST-2018-0068, RIN No. 2105-AE63
Traveling by Air with Service Animals
The Seeing Eye has been providing specially bred and trained guide dogs for people who are blind or have low vision since 1929. Since that time, The Seeing
Eye has worked tirelessly to advocate for the rights of guide dog users to have equal access to all modes of transportation including air travel. At present,
there are over 1,700 active Seeing Eye graduates in North America and many of those people are regular air travelers. As Senior Advocacy Specialist and
a guide dog handler myself, I am submitting the below comments on behalf of The Seeing Eye. I commend DOT's efforts to amend and clarify its ACAA regulations
to ensure safe and equal access to air travel for people who work with service animals. The Seeing Eye's position on the questions posed in the ANPRM is
Question 1: Whether psychiatric service animals should be treated similarly to other service animals;
Question 2: Whether there should be a distinction between emotional support animals and other service animals;
Comments to questions 1 and 2: Service animals should be defined as those that are 1) individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with
a disability and 2) public access trained. Animals that do not meet both of these criteria should be designated as a separate and distinct category from
Question 3: whether emotional support animals should be required to travel in pet carriers for the duration of the flight;
Comment: Animals should be permitted to travel in the cabin without being crated as long as they meet the criteria in the definition of service animal
proposed in comments 1 and 2.
Question 4: Whether the species of service animals and emotional support animals that airlines are required to transport should be limited;
Comment: With respect to the species of service animals, the amended DOT regulations should be consistent with the Department of Justice regulations implementing
with Disabilities Act. The result would be that the species of service animals would be limited to dogs and in some narrow circumstances, miniature horses.
Question 5: whether the number of service animals/emotional support animals should be limited per passenger;
Comment: The Seeing Eye is concerned that as the number of service animals traveling with a handler increases, the likelihood that the handler will be
able to effectively control the animals decreases.
Question 6: Whether an attestation should be required from all service animal and emotional support animal users that their animal has been trained to
behave in a public setting;
Comment: No. An attestation would have no value because passengers could provide assurances that the animal is trained to behave appropriately in public
regardless of the animal's actual behavior and there would be no way to determine the veracity of these statements. Existing guidelines allow airlines
to refuse to transport service animals that are engaging in disruptive or threatening behavior such as excessive barking, biting, growling, jumping, eliminating
in the terminal or aircraft, etc. Furthermore, if the definition of service animal is limited to those that are trained to perform work or tasks and public
access trained, and all other animals were required to be in pet carriers, airlines would be far less likely to have problems with unruly or aggressive
Question 7: Whether service animals and emotional support animals should be harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered;
Comment: Service animals should be leashed or otherwise under the handler's control at all times. There are times during air travel when it may be appropriate
for a passenger using a guide dog to remove its harness for the comfort and safety of the dog. However, the guide dog handler still has control over the
dog in these limited circumstances because the leash is the means of control.
Question 8: Whether there are safety concerns with transporting large service animals and if so, how to address them;
Comment: If DOT adopts the definition of service animal proposed in comments
1 and 2, these safety concerns would be greatly decreased. On page 34, The
ANPRM states in part that
"Airlines have . expressed safety concerns about large service animals in the cabin, particularly large emotional support animals that have not received
disability-mitigation training. . While the Department previously concluded that a service animal's reasonable use of a portion of an adjacent seat's foot
space does not deny another passenger effective use of the space for his or her feet and is not an adequate reason for the carrier to refuse to permit
the animal to accompany its user at his or her seat, some airlines have indicated that passengers feel pressured to agree to such an arrangement and have
later expressed to airline personnel their dissatisfaction at having to share their foot space."
If DOT requires air carriers to transport only dogs that are trained to mitigate a disability and behave appropriately in public, it will be easier for
air carriers to simultaneously accommodate passengers using service animals and assuage the potential concerns of passengers who are being asked to help
make that accommodation possible.
Question 9: whether airlines should be prohibited from requiring a veterinary health form or immunization record from service animal users without an individualized
assessment that the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others or would cause a significant disruption in the aircraft cabin;
Comment: Yes. Airlines should be prohibited from requiring a veterinary health form or immunization record from service animal users in advance of travel.
This requirement would place burdens and restrictions on service animal users that are not placed on other passengers. For example, the requirement could
prevent service animal users from traveling on short notice or checking in on line or at curb side. Moreover, once an air carrier has made an individualized
assessment that a service animal would pose a direct threat or cause a significant disruption in an aircraft cabin, veterinary records do nothing to mitigate
the threat the animal potentially poses and DOT regulations do not obligate air carriers to transport the animal under those circumstances.
In closing, The Seeing Eye expresses its appreciation to DOT for the opportunity to participate in the advanced rule making process on an issue that is
of paramount importance to our organization as a whole and our graduates as individuals. If The Seeing Eye can provide any further assistance or information
on issues raised in this ANPRM given our areas of expertise, please feel free to contact us.
Melissa R. Allman, Esq.
Senior Specialist, Advocacy and Government Relations
The Seeing Eye, Inc.
P.O. Box 375, Morristown, NJ 07963-0375 (mail)
10 Washington Valley Road, Morristown, NJ 07960-3412 (deliveries)
973-539-4425 ext. 1724, Fax: 973-525-1081 advocacy at SeeingEye.org <mailto:advocacy at SeeingEye.org>
The Seeing Eye
Independence with Dignity since 1929
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