The U.S. Department of Transportation has officially changed the rules as to what types of emotional support animals are allowed on commercial flights.
"This final 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 DOT said in its ruling.
The new rule will put an end to what had become a widely-abused loophole allowing passengers to bring a wide array of different creatures aboard, including peacocks, pigs, and snakes. Flight attendants have become increasingly frustrated by the proliferation of disruptive animals.
"It is inappropriate to have untrained or undertrained service animals in confined public spaces such as the aircraft cabin," said Julie Hedrick, the national president for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. "Far too often, flight attendants have been intimidated, bitten, and required medical attention. We are frequently left to deal with behavioral issues, including urination, defecation, barking, and animals becoming loose in the cabin."
The new rule change will prevent various airlines from having to make their own rules and regulations for which animals are permitted.