For Immediate Release
Clark Rachfal, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs
Alexandria, VA - On Thursday, August 8, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Enforcement Office issued a final statement of enforcement priorities for service animals. In this statement, DOT provides greater clarity to air travel passengers with service animals, as well as airlines, about the DOT’s interpretation and enforcement of the existing service animal rules. The American Council of the Blind commends the administration for listening to the concerns of ACB, as well as our affiliate, Guide Dog Users, Inc., and the broader disability community, and we support this final statement of enforcement priorities regarding service animals.
Since 2015, ACB has been a leading organization on the front lines of constructing inclusive service animal policies with DOT and the airlines that are true to the Air Carrier Access Act. ACB is pleased that DOT has constructed a final enforcement statement that will protect the rights of passengers with service animals for the entirety of their flying experience. The DOT’s final enforcement statement contains provisions that:
- Prohibit airlines from requiring advanced notice that a passenger is traveling with a service animal for flights less than eight hours. This guarantees passengers with service animals greater flexibility in air travel.
- Consistent with the Air Carrier Access Act, credible verbal assurance is proof that a person with a disability is traveling with a service animal.
- Prohibit airline categorical restrictions on service animals based exclusively on breed and age.
- Limit airline requests for documentation regarding service animal vaccinations, training and behavior to reasonable requests to determine whether a specific animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.
ACB and its members nationwide will remain engaged on this important issue to ensure that all passengers traveling with service animals receive the full protections of the Air Carrier Access Act. To this end, ACB and Guide Dog Users, Inc. remain willing to assist all airlines to review and amend their current service animal policies. We look forward to continued collaboration with the administration and airlines to enhance the air travel experience for all passengers.
The American Council of the Blind is a national grassroots consumer organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. With 70 affiliates, ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. Learn more by visiting www.acb.org.