Service Animals – Travel Information
People have domesticated many animals, including both familiar to all cats and dogs, and very unusual types, such as different reptiles. For many pet handlers, their beloved animals have become more than just pets. They are great partners, companions, and loyal friends. Moreover, there are specially trained service animals that not only please their owners but also perform various assignments that make their life easier. A service animal is usually assigned to people with disabilities, either physical or mental. Assistance dogs may be trained to perform various household tasks, accompany a person with visual impairments to the demanded location or provide emotional support for people with personality disorders. Nevertheless, service animals are designed to simplify the life of their handlers, not to complicate it with different restrictions. That’s why the rights of the service animal are much broader than those of pets. This, of course, primarily concerns the absence of prohibitions on access to different public places. But at the same time, service animals and their owners have more rights in the field of tourism, which is also very important.
Safe traveling with an animal
A few years ago, any handler of a dog, including a service dog, would have had to search for pet-friendly airlines or give the preference to other means of transport in order to travel comfortably with the animal. A trip with an animal can never be spontaneous. You have to collect all the necessary documentation and prepare your pet in advance. It should also be borne in mind that every country has different laws on the import of animals. If you have chosen air travel, you have to know the rules of the selected airline. Animal transportation is usually charged separately from the ticket price in the airport. However, service dogs can fly free of charge. Besides, you will be responsible for the safety of an animal and the safety of other passengers on the way to your destination. If a passenger has any questions about traveling with a specific animal, he or she can contact the contact center of a carrier or find the necessary information on the official website of an airline.
The rights of a service animal
A service animal is a specially trained animal that provides people with disabilities with necessary assistance. The training of these animals includes training to deal with different disabilities, such as physical, sensory, or mental. They can also perform different household tasks that alleviate the life of a person with a disability. During the trip, assistance dogs can secure their handler from any danger, provide him with mobility, which is especially important for people with visual or mobility impairments, or just support and comfort those who are scared of flying. The dog can also carry the luggage and fulfill other owner’s errands. If an animal is qualified as a service one its rights are much wider. Only a service animal is permitted to fly in the cabin of the plane in a special carrier. The animal cannot occupy the seat beside its owner. Furthermore, if a service dog meets all the requirements, it can travel with the owner for free. Compliance of the animal with the requirements is checked by the U.S. Department of Transportation. A person with a disability, who wants to travel with the animal, must fill in a special form to request a travel permit. Also, a person has to know all the instructions and rules of behavior that apply to the passenger with animals. All the information that a person may need to know to travel with an animal safely can usually be found on the official site of an airline. Of course your pet should be registered and it is desirable to have an Service animal ID card and filled DOT form.
Particular qualities of air travel with a service dog
Aviation travel is one of the most comfortable and fastest ways of traveling. However, many people still think that it’s impossible to travel by plane with an animal. First of all, remember that if an animal is qualified as a service animal and you have all the required documents, airlines cannot deny you a flight without providing sensible reasons for refusal. Passengers with service animals need to fill in a special animal transportation form no later than two days before the flight. Or in case if a ticket was bought within two days before the flight date, this form may be filled in at the airport.
During long flights in a confined space, some animals may become nervous or aggressive. That’s why American airlines may require documents confirming that your dog can tolerate long-distance flights safely. Besides, there are special requirements to the service animal and its owner if the flight lasts longer than 8 hours. Also, you should note that not everyone thinks emotional support animals to be assistance animals. This belief partially limits the rights of ESAs, including their rights during air travel. For example, a flight in the cabin of an aircraft may be forbidden for such animals. If a person with disabilities, who requires the help of ESA, has such problems, he or she must be ready to provide some extra documents. For example, a letter from the doctors may be required.