Alaska Airlines reduces number of emotional support animals on flights

The airline said that from January 11 it would only allow assistance dogs trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

A Dec. 2 decision by the US Department of Transportation that amended the department’s air carrier access law grants airlines the power to classify emotional support animals as pets rather than service animals. Under the decision, only dogs that meet specific training criteria are allowed as service animals for people with physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other disabilities.

The new regulatory decision has been criticized by disability rights advocates, who said the restrictions would weaken protections for people with disabilities by limiting the definition of a service animal. According to official guidelines released by the Department of Transportation in 2019, common service animals include miniature dogs, cats and horses.

“While it’s no secret that we still remain a long way from a truly accessible transportation system in this country, the DOT rule will only exacerbate existing inequalities for people with disabilities participating in air travel and instead address almost exclusively to the interests of the airline. industry, ”said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, in a statement this month.

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