Traveling with Service Animals/ Emotional Support Animals/ Psychiatric Animals
Animals! They are our pets, our biggest cheerleaders, and our most unconditional lovers. They are also extremely perceptive and there for us whenever and however we may need them. Have we ever asked? Never!
Animals! *sigh* Do we even deserve them?
Well, worthy or not, we have been blessed by their presence and devotion and to understand the nuances of traveling with animals who aren't just pets but also serve as our entire support system, is the least we can do. Don’t you think? So here is everything you need to know about traveling with Service/Emotional Support/Psychiatric Animals.
Who are they?
To begin with, let us first clarify the distinction between the three types of support animals that you are allowed to travel with other than the more common domestic pets. Service/support animals are registered and trained to help and assist individuals with disabilities in performing life functions. People with visual and hearing impairment, proneness to seizure attacks, and movement difficulties are assigned the company of these skilled animals. Emotional Support/Psychiatric animals aren’t trained to perform life functions but instead provide a constant support to individuals with emotional, psychiatric and cognitive disabilities. Both Service and Emotional/Psychiatric Animals need to be present or be in close proximity with their people at all times, to prevent any sudden occurrence or a calamity. These animals serve a specific purpose and cannot and should not be classified as pets.
What are your rights?
Having made note of the distinction between different types of professionally available animals, it is also imperative to create awareness about one’s rights. Your rights are protected under the American Disabilities Act, wherein every airline is legally required to let you travel with your supportive companion in cabin and at no extra cost. Although one must always clarify and confirm with the respective airline as every company has their own policies, requirements and restrictions.
As mentioned before, Support and Service animals have a purpose to serve and the individual may not be able to make the trip without their assistance. For this reason, the American Disabilities Act made it illegal for airlines to charge an extra fee for the always-at-work animals. But be mindful of your animal and his/her temperament, ensure s/he is under your control and that s/he will not be physically obstructing any space that is left open for the purpose of an efficient evacuation.
Hold up! Disclaimer!
A disclaimer to the travel of Service/Emotional Support/ Psychiatric Animals is that most flights only consider dogs, cats, household birds and in some cases miniature horses with the required skills and certificates, to be classified as Service/Emotional Support Animals. Other exotic pets are not permitted on board for the simple to understand fact that other passengers may not be pleased at the idea of sharing the flight with a snake,rodent or a spider, especially if they managed to escape their carriers.
What should you be wary of?
In the past, untrained service and/or support animals have been known to attack fellow passengers and in fact even pee and/or poop inside the cabin. This has forced the airlines to be more cautious and put stricter screening measures in place that effectively restrict individuals from claiming that their pets are Service/Support animals in an attempt to avail the free tickets and to take advantage of the negligent government laws on this matter.
Where the documents at?
So, the essentials that take precedence are the documents and certifications. The airline would need credible assurance of the fact that your dog/cat/bird/mini horse is in fact a Service or a Support Animal. You will also require a letter from your doctor stating that you need the assistance of an Emotional Support Animal. Make sure you keep both yours and your support buddy’s documents and doctor’s letters handy to facilitate the airline in their thorough assessment.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, the Service/Support Animal accompanying you needs to go through the same check-in screening process as everyone else, hoomans and pets alike. You will be asked to walk through the screening together and in case the metal detector is set off, the two of you will be asked to step aside for additional screening measures. Through all this, you are expected to be in full control of your Service Animal.
When traveling to another country, the rules of airline pet travel remain the same for Service/Emotional Support Animals. The one thing to try and be aware of though, is that every destination may have their own set of rules and regulations that apply to pet travel to and fro their country. For instance, Hawaii requires animals to be quarantined prior to the flight and only then will they be permitted on their grounds. It is best to call the respective authorities and get the latest requirements and regulations to ensure a problem free travel.
Who knew finding support and taking it along with you on your travels was so easy. With all the knowledge on your tips, you are sure to have a great time traveling with your animal.