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DOT seeks public comments on emotional support animals, service animals on flights

The controversial issue of service animals on airline flights is getting attention from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is taking public comments as it considers changing regulations of service animals and emotional support animals on flights.

>>Emotional support dogs in airline cabins get scrutiny

The move comes in the wake of high-profile incidents involving animals on flights, including the mauling of a passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight. 

>>Delta passenger bitten by emotional support dog couldn’t escape, says attorney

The DOT said it continues to get complaints from people with service animals, and 60 percent of them deal with emotional support animals and psychiatric support animals.

Delta earlier this year tightened its restrictions on emotional support animals.

Most of the complaints involving emotional support animals and psychiatric support animals “are from passengers with disabilities who are upset that the airline is not accepting their animals for transport,” according to the DOT. “Many airlines also indicated that they believe passengers wishing to travel with their pets may be falsely claiming that their pets are service animals so they can take their pet in the aircraft cabin or to avoid paying a fee for their pets.”

“The use of unusual species as service animals has also added confusion,” the DOT says. “Passengers have attempted to fly with peacocks, ducks, turkeys, pigs, iguanas, and various other types of animals as emotional support or service animals.”

The DOT is asking for the public to comment on whether there should be a distinction between emotional support animals and other service animals, whether emotional support animals should be required to travel in a carrier throughout a flight, whether certain species should be limited, and other issues.

The comment period is open for 45 days.

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