My Blind Spot, in partnership with American Airlines, is leading a coalition of like-minded organizations endorsing the Department of Transportation’s guidance on Emotional Support Animals aboard airplanes. Read the full letter below:

Full Letter to the Department of Transportation

August 9, 2019

The Honorable Elaine L. Chao Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Chao:

We are writing to commend the Department of Transportation (DOT) for issuing final guidance regarding support animals. DOT’s statement is a good step towards addressing the harm caused by the unconstrained growth of untrained emotional support animals (ESAs) on airplanes. In addition to the controls permitted under the interim guidance, DOT’s final guidance will give airlines further opportunity to ensure the health and safety of everyone on board, including the opportunity to evaluate ESAs in the airport lobby and the opportunity to prohibit animals that are younger than four months old (due to public behavior concerns).

In 2018, over a million passengers on U.S. airlines traveled with ESAs in the cabin, and as a result, both airports and airlines have seen a sharp increase in incidents caused by ESAs. These incidents have ranged from mauling and biting to urinating and defecating—all unacceptable behaviors on an airplane. This misbehavior not only threatens the health and safety of our passengers and crew, but also passengers with disabilities traveling with legitimate service animals. The transport of untrained animals through busy airports and fully booked aircraft may also put undue stress on the animals themselves. Online vendors have been all too willing to sell dubious credentials to passengers who are not disabled, helping spur the growth of fraudulent ESAs.

To be clear, we are not suggesting that DOT change the existing requirements for airlines to accommodate passengers with a disability and a trained service animal.

The DOT should protect the legitimate right of passengers with a disability to travel with a service animal and adopt the definition of service animal from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We thank DOT for the important work undertaken on this critical issue, recognizing that additional changes are needed to Section 382.117, and look forward to the eventual rule changes that will ensure a safer and healthier travel experience for all.

  • American Association of Airport Executives
  • American Kennel Club
  • American Service Dog Access Coalition
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • America’s VetDogs® The Veteran’s K-9 Corps Inc.®
  • Air Line Pilots Association
  • Airlines for America
  • Airports Council International – North America
  • Allied Pilots Association
  • Assistance Canine Training Services
  • Assistance Dog International
  • Assistance Dogs of Hawaii
  • Assistance Dogs of the West
  • Association of Flight Attendants
  • Association of Professional Flight Attendants
  • Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans
  • Bergin College of Canine Studies
  • Can Do Canines®
  • Canine Companions for Independence
  • Canines for Service
  • Canine Partners for Life
  • Canine Partners of the Rockies
  • CHAMP Assistance Dogs
  • Circle Tail
  • Duo Dogs, Inc.
  • Early Alert Canines
  • East Coast Assistants Dogs
  • Eyes Ears Nose & Paws
  • Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Inc.
  • Fidos for Freedom, Inc.
  • Freedom Service Dogs
  • Global Business Travel Association
  • Guide Dog Foundation
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind
  • Guide Dogs of America
  • Guide Dogs of Texas, Inc.
  • Guiding Eyes for the Blind
  • Handi-Dogs
  • Hawaii Fi-Do Service Dogs
  • Helping Paws
  • Indiana Canine Assistant Network
  • International Air Transport Association
  • JLAD Service & Therapy Dog Training
  • K9s 4 Mobility
  • K9s for Warriors
  • Leader Dogs for the Blind
  • Leashes of Valor
  • Mutts with a Mission
  • My Blind Spot
  • National Air Carriers Association
  • NEADS World Class Service Dogs
  • Next Step Service Dogs
  • New Horizons Service Dogs, Inc.
  • Open Doors Organization
  • Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS)
  • Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services
  • Patriot Paws Service Dogs
  • Paws4people®
  • Paws Assisting Veterans
  • Paws With A Cause®
  • Paws With Purpose
  • Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
  • Power Paws Assistance Dogs
  • Puppies Behind Bars
  • Regional Airline Association
  • Retrieving Freedom Inc.
  • Saint Francis Service Dogs
  • Service Dogs for America
  • Service Dogs of Virginia
  • Service Dogs, Inc.
  • Service Dog Project Inc.
  • Smoky Mountain Service Dogs
  • Southeastern Guide Dogs
  • Southwest Airlines Pilots Association
  • Summit Assistance Dogs
  • Susquehanna Service Dogs
  • Tender Loving Canines
  • Travelers United
  • TWU Local 556
  • Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO
  • UDS Service Dogs Program
  • World Institute on Disability