Service animals and emotional support animals are very different and airlines are starting to crack down

Service animals and emotional support animals are very different and airlines are starting to crack down
Service animals and emotional support animals are extremely different. One is protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act and one is not. (Source: Pixabay)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -When a Northeast Ohio woman was not allowed on a plane in Orlando because of her emotional support squirrel it has drawn even more criticism to people traveling with animals.

Airline are beginning to change polices on what is and isn’t allowed.

It is important to know the difference between the two categories of animals you might see on a plane.

Service Animal- According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a service dog is, “...any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

Emotional Support Animal or Comfort Animals- These animals are not covered and protected by the ADA "These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities,: according to ADA definitions.

Service animals must be allowed on flights, as protected by the ADA.

Because emotional support animals are not protected, each airline is free to make its own policy.

The major difference between the two classifications has to do with the word work.

According to the ADA a service dog can perform tasks such as:

  • Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks.
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds.
  • Providing non-violent protection or rescue work.
  • Pulling a wheelchair.
  • Assisting an individual during a seizure.
  • Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens.
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone.
  • Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities.
  • Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

Airlines like Frontier, the airline that kicked off the woman with the squirrel, is the latest to change its policy on emotional support animals.

According to Frontier’s website:

Effective for travel beginning November 1, 2018, Frontier is changing our policy for accepting emotional support animals (ESAs) on our flights. An emotional support animal provides support for an individual with a mental health-related disability and is not trained to perform a specific task(s) or work.
Frontier Airline

Moving forward Frontier said it will only allow dogs or cats as ESAs and only if the animal is in a create that can fit under a seat. The passenger must also give 48 hours notice, and have completed paperwork that describes the animal and approval from the passengers doctor.

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