If you’re planning to fly this holiday season with your emotional support animal, there are a few things to know before arriving at the airport that will greatly reduce the stress involved when flying with your animal.
Click here if you need tips on what the pet policies are for some airline companies.
Tips on What to Make Sure before Plane:
Regulations require that the airline will accommodate reasonable requests to fly with an Emotional Service Animal (ESA) or Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD), but the airline must be contacted at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled departure time and a detailed letter is offered on request. The ESA prescription letter must:
* not be more than one year old
* be on the professional’s letterhead
* be from a mental health professional and must state all of the following:
1. That the passenger has a mental health-related disability that appears in the DSM-V. Note it is not just a mental illness diagnosis, but a mental illness which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Airlines are not permitted to require the documentation to specify the type of mental health disability or the specific diagnosis, but the letter must state that the diagnosis appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition.
2. That the presence of the animal is necessary to the passenger’s health or treatment during the flight and/or at the destination.
3. That the individual writing the letter is a licensed mental health professional and that the passenger is under his or her care. The individual writing the letter should clearly indicate what type of mental health care professional they are (psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, et cetera).
Tips on the Different Travel Methods:
Traveling by Plane
When preparing to fly with their emotional support animal, an owner must first ensure that they have their prescription letter. This must come from a licensed medical or mental health professional approving your use of your pet as an ESA. Different airlines have different rules or steps for flying with your canine friend. Be sure to call the air carrier you’re traveling with to let them know you intend to travel with an emotional support dog. The Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to allow you to travel with your emotional support animal. Coordinating with the airline will save time and lessen the chance of a nightmare situation.
Traveling by Car
When traveling with an emotional support dog by car, especially on long road trips, it’s very important for an owner to map out their trip. It’s always nice to know where the closest dog-friendly rest stop, hotel or restaurant is. There are many dog-friendly hotels and restaurants across this great country, but some places might have a no dog policy. This policy is permitted since hotels and restaurants are not covered under the Fair Housing Act or Air Carrier Access Act. It is very important to remember that an emotional support animal is not legally required to be allowed in a restaurant or hotel just because it is an ESA.
Traveling by Train
Unfortunately, many train operator companies do not recognize emotional support animals. They do allow service and therapy dogs to travel freely with their owners. Service and therapy dogs go through specialized training which emotional support animals do not have to go through.