Peacocks | Air Carrier Access Act | ACAA | Emotional Support Animals | Delta Airlines | United Airlines

I’ve been watching all the same old hoopla (How could I miss it?) lately about animals on airlines and all the problems, with the usual repetitive media stories with the peacock photos, etc.

I’ve let it slide because I’m so tired of talking about it, but people keep missing the boat about some key things, and with another incident last night… Enough.

Let’s start right here: peacocks ain’t the problem.

It wasn’t a peacock that put 28 stitches in a guy’s face on a Delta flight in Atlanta last June, or bit a young woman’s leg at the JetBlue counter in the Orlando airport in November, or whose teeth injured a little girl’s forehead on a Southwest flight in Phoenix last night. It was dogs, in every case.

And some of the loudest voices you hear complaining now about what’s going on are the very same people who had their chance almost two years ago to get rid of emotional support animals on commercial flights – which is what the airlines wanted to do – when they were part of the “service dog advocates” group during the Air Carrier Access Act negotiated regulation process, and they wouldn’t do it.

You gotta be kidding me.

Things I Talk About In The Podcast Include:

• big parallel between what’s going on here and what happened when the ADA was revised in 2011

• the ACAA negotiated regulation process, including the advocate positions and the airline responses

• where I think we need to go: get rid of ESAs, tighten up the service dog requirements

• where things are now: Delta rules as a classic case of hurting the very people you say you are trying to protect.

• where things are going: DOT Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Traveling by Air With Service Animals

And more… much more.


Quotes as they appear in order in the podcast for your reference with links at the end.


“Nope, the problem isn’t horses, or snakes, or iguanas, or monkeys, or any of the other animals the revisions have done away with. Oh, I’m glad they did that, and it’s definitely appropriate, but it’s not gonna have any big positive impact on the service dog world.

No, what bugs me more than anything else about the ADA revisions is this continuing drumbeat that they’ve made things better and tightened things up when actually the opposite is true – they make things worse. That’s because DOJ tightened things up at the margins – snakes, monkeys, and so on – that aren’t really the big problem, but loosened them up in the middle – dogs – that are, and where they really needed to do the tightening.

Unfortunately, I think that one’s gonna come back to bite us, and we haven’t even begun to see the multitude of service dog issues that will result from it.”


ESA1. “ESAs are limited to dogs, cats, and rabbits. ESAs must be contained in FAA-approved pet carriers as the default.”

ESA2. “Emotional support animals are dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds. “Household birds” does not include chickens, ducks, or turkeys.”

ESA3. “ESAs are cats and dogs. ESAs must be contained in FAA-approved pet carriers for the duration of a passenger’s flight unless providing disability mitigation.”


“Although advocates disagree about which species should be allowed access as emotional support animals and what type of access they should have, the advocates have continued to support access for these animals under the ACAA.”


SAS 1. “Advocates supporting Position SAS 1 are granting a major concession in that we are restricting service animal species to dogs. There is exceptional, case-by-case access for disability-mitigating miniature horses and disability-mitigating capuchin monkeys, the latter of which must kept in a pet carrier.”

SAS 2. “Service animals are dogs and cats that are trained to do work or perform a task to mitigate a person’s disability on the flight or at the destination…. Miniature horses and capuchin monkeys, while not called service animals, have similar access as service animals.”


“Bottom line:  the ESA aspect of the SAP is unacceptable to the carriers.  It would exacerbate the entire ESA problem rather than mitigate it.

From the carrier’s perspective, the proper approach would be to align the ACAA with other countries and the ADA and not recognize ESAs at all. Although the carriers recognize that fraudsters might simply then claim their animal to be service animal rather than an ESA (as the savvy fraudster does today), eliminating ESAs is still the best approach from the carriers’ perspective, and would certainly maximize the likelihood of carrier agreement to a reg-neg consensus.

If the disability advocates insist on continuing to allow ESAs as part of a proposal, at a minimum that provision should have the same species limits as applies to service animals, and the ESA should be required to remain in a pet carrier during flight.   Even that approach, however, would make carrier agreement less likely.”


“The carrier view continues to be that, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act and foreign jurisdictions, ESAs should not be recognized in the Air Carrier Access Act context.”


“The advocates original proposal dated 21 July limited service animal species to dogs, capuchin monkey (which would remain in carrier throughout flight) and, under certain circumstances, miniature horses.  The carriers have agreed to and support that service animal species restriction proposal.  The disability advocates have since added a proposal that cats be added to the allowed service animal species.  The carriers acknowledge that a service animal advocate has, since the advocates’ original proposal dated 21 July, suggested that cats provide disability mitigation related to seizure alert, but that information has been limited.  At this point, the carriers cannot agree to the addition of cats to the species originally proposed by the disability advocates.”


“Currently, carriers may require third party licensed mental health care professional documentation for ESAs. Under the SAP approach, documentation, while still required, is passenger generated. The third party aspect of the current scheme is designed to prevent fraud, and however problematic and easily circumvented that scheme may be (internet letters, etc.) it is something to protect the carriers, and it goes away under the SAP.”


“A pet or support animal may be able to discern that the individual is in distress, but it is what the animal is trained to do in response to this awareness that distinguishes a service animal from an observant pet or support animal.”

“It is the Department’s view that an animal that is trained to ‘‘ground” a person with a psychiatric disorder does work or performs a task that would qualify it as a service animal as compared to an untrained emotional support animal whose presence affects a person’s disability. It is the fact that the animal is trained to respond to the individual’s needs that distinguishes an animal as a service animal. The process must have two steps: Recognition and response. For example, if a service animal senses that a person is about to have a psychiatric episode and it is trained to respond, for example, by nudging, barking, or removing the individual to a safe location until the episode subsides, then the animal has indeed performed a task or done work on behalf of the individual with the disability, as opposed to merely sensing an event.”


“The law allows airline personnel to ask for documentation as a means of verifying that the animal is a service animal, but DOT’s rules tell carriers not to require documentation as a condition for permitting an individual to travel with his or her service animal in the cabin unless a passenger’s verbal assurance is not credible.  In that case, the airline may require documentation as a condition for allowing the animal to travel in the cabin.”


“The carriers would also like to address the following sentence from pages 14-15 of the advocates’ 26 August proposal addendum:

‘Proponents hope this position would satisfy the strong desire of some with disabilities to travel freely without disclosing whether they have a disability. ‘

The carriers are puzzled by this statement, given that, by necessity, it is only passengers with a disability who may avail themselves of the rights and protections afforded by the ACAA. The idea that a passenger could obtain disability related rights without having to disclose that he or she is a person with a disability, and thus entitled to such rights, makes no sense.   Indeed, the disability advocates’ own 21 July proposal would require passengers traveling with ESAs and service animals to expressly disclose and affirm they have a disability – see pages 7 and 9 of the 21 July advocates’ proposal.”


“@ccicanine @CNN Thanks for interviewing @ccicanine South Florida graduate for your story about the airline’s recent Service and Support Animal Policies. We are pleased to be working with the airlines to work towards solving the issues.”


NPRM  DOT/OST RIN: 2105-AE63 Publication ID: Fall 2017

Title: Traveling by Air With Service Animals

“This rulemaking would address the appropriate definition of a service animal and include safeguards to reduce the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim that their pets are service animals.”


Links 35622932/attorney-for-man- attacked-by-service-dog-on- delta-flight-released- statement delta-mauling-puts-focus-suppo rt-animal-rules/2gwdBZtd30KZss vyaroAbL/ news/article-4575742/Veteran- s-emotional-support-dog-bites- Delta-passenger.html