Bye-bye, emotional support peacock! The Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that emotional support animals will not necessarily be considered service animals on U.S. flights—a marked change from current airline operations. Emotional support animals have been growing in numbers, but airlines have been asking the DOT to make a decision on the issue. The change is driven in part by passenger attempts to board planes with animals such as pigs, peacocks, and squirrels in recent years, as well as misbehaved or poorly trained animals on board. Service animals fly free on planes, and airlines have suspected people of labeling their pets as emotional support animals to avoid the pet transport fee. The new rule defines a service animal as, “a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” The date on which the rule will take effect has not yet been announced.
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