Veterans Encouraged to Speak Up Against New Amendment to Ban Emotional Support Animals on Flights

Canines have long been flying coach as Emotional Support Animals (ESA), however in recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number and variety of animals that are traveling in the main cabins. Some owners are stretching the “service animal” definition in order to fly the skies next to their pet.

This proliferation has led to much conflict and controversy and because of this, The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed a ban on emotional support animals, as well as a restriction on the types of service animals that passengers would be allowed to bring on planes, limiting them only to trained service dogs.

“There’s certainly a widespread nature of online diagnostic abuse and some people are taking advantage of the system, but that doesn’t mean everyone should be penalized,” says Matt Handal, CEO of U.S. Service Animals.

U.S. Service Animals (USSA) is one of the leading online destinations for information on Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and the laws surrounding ownership of each. This organization consults with mental health care professionals in all 50 states, and they pride themselves on being the ethical leaders in the space.

Matt Handal expresses, “This proposed ban on ESA would have a negative effect on many of the people who utilize our services, making it more difficult for those with legitimate emotional disabilities to travel and that is unfortunate and unfair.”

Take for instance, veterans. An estimated 20% of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD and/or depression. The use of ESA has risen dramatically over the years and has provided an important benefit to many within the veteran community.

The U.S. DOT is seeking public comment for the proposed policy. The comment period is set to end April 6th, however due to the COVID-19 crisis, U.S. Service Animals is seeking an extension in order to allow more input from stakeholders.

Concerned citizens, veterans or those who have a valid diagnosis through a licensed mental health professional are urged to comment! Learn more and comment here:

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