U.S. Air Force Bars Emotional Support Animals on Military Flights

U.S. Air Force Bars Emotional Support Animals on Military Flights

U.S. Air Force Bars Emotional Support Animals on Military Flights

The U.S. Air Force has stopped allowing emotional support dogs on chartered military airplanes. The ban was announced on August 2 and immediately took effect for all traveling personnel. This order left several military service members and their families rushing to find alternative transportation services for their pets.

According to Military.com, military personnel with small cats or dogs that fit into proper carry-on pet bags are required to accomplish the necessary paperwork. They also need to reserve a space for their pet under an airplane seat. For personnel with larger dogs, the new rule also requires a crate or kennel, a reservation in the cargo hold, and extra fees that range from USD 125 to USD 375 depending on the pet's weight.

Experts Remind Pet Owners of New Pet Travel Restrictions

As travel restrictions ease up this 2021, experts advise pet parents to check with airlines if they can bring their dogs on airplanes before booking any trips. Emotional support animals, which were previously allowed on commercial flights, are no longer considered service dogs by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as of last year.

This means bringing an ESA companion will incur an extra fee, which is currently at USD 125 per flight for most airlines. Certain dogs may also not be allowed by airlines on flights according to the DOT rule.

" [Airlines] may have restrictions on breed and on size, and most airlines also require a certificate of veterinary inspection which is like a health certificate," said veterinarian Marie Bucko in an interview with ABC News.

In an earlier report by USA Today in December 2020, airlines have questioned if some passengers were falsely passing off their pets as emotional support animals to avoid the required fees. The DOT rule allows airlines to require pet size restrictions, which is problematic for pet parents with large dogs.

Keeping Pets Comfortable and Safe During Airplane Trips

Bucko advises pet owners to get to the airport early. This will give pets enough time to get some exercise and relieve themselves before boarding the plane. Pet owners should secure very playful and active dogs with sturdy custom dog collars and leashes so that they don’t run around the cabin or get lost in the terminal.

For dogs with motion sickness, Bucko emphasized the importance of consulting a veterinarian for medical advice or alternative travel methods. She also advised pet parents to consider the distance and the time of the flight before bringing a pet on an airplane. To keep dogs more comfortable during the flight, pet parents can bring their dog’s comfort items, such as custom plush toys and personalized puppy blankets.

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