How to Travel With Service Dog

How to Travel With Service Dog

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

The use of a service dog is considered one of the most effective therapies for humans who have any disability. Service animals are designed to simplify the life of their owner and not to impose any restrictions, so they enjoy special benefits, including privileges while traveling.

The Mission of Service Animals

The basic objective of a service animal is the easement of the life of disabled people. This goal can be achieved in a variety of ways. Usually, service dogs work or perform tasks for people who have work-related inabilities and cannot fulfill their work duties. Also, service animals often become guides, alerts, and walking reliance for their owners.

Another benefit of a service dog is that it is taught to help its owner with household and daily assignments. For example, the animal can search for and bring to the handler required things, open doors and windows, press buttons, for example, to call the elevator or the panic button. In addition, the animal can be taught to remind its owner to take medicine or provide first aid if necessary. At the same time, service dogs supply their handlers with an emotional endorsement that is needed to cope with depression and other serious psychological disorders.

Who Can Get a Service Dog

The purchase and taking care of a service animal can be very costly. Therefore, it is better to find out whether a man’s dysfunction qualifies for a helper animal. The Americans with Disabilities Act has stated the list of impairments that make a person eligible for a service dog. For instance, humans with congenital or acquired blindness and deafness, patients with PTSD, diabetes, and cancer, autistic individuals, and those who suffer from seizures. It’s also taken into account how severe the patient is. At the same time, an individual must be able to take care of the animal, walk and feed it. If you have a letter from your mental health professionals you can Register Service Dog online on the MyServiceAnimal.

Service Animal for Physical Dysfunctions

This is the most widespread category of service animals that are very common in our time. The most familiar helper animal of this group is a guide dog. It is individually trained to help people with visual impairments navigate in the area and get to the destination safely and quickly, without the assistance of other people. Another extended kind of service animal succor people with hearing loss.

A service dog notifies its owner about extraneous sounds by using special signs. For instance, the animal reacts to a knock on a door, an alarm noise, a phone call, an alarm clock, or when someone calls its owner by name. There are also service dogs that succor men with mobility issues. With the help of a special harness, the dog can roll a wheelchair or become a prop for its owner while walking.

Service Animals for Mental and Emotional Disorders

Psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals are as substantial as other helper animals. An emotional support animal can be used as a therapy or extra psychological prop for people who suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, social disorder, and other poor mental health conditions.

The presence of a service dog increases the handler’s level of confidence, he or she feels less vulnerable but more safe and secure. Moreover, a service animal can be incredibly useful during panic or anxiety attacks by helping a human to calm down faster and also protecting the owner at times when he or she is most assailable.

Another benefit is that a service dog helps the handler to get rid of fears and phobias. This is especially relevant for veterans with PTSD and for air travelers who are afraid to fly. In general, it has been proven that animals have a positive effect on the well-being and emotional state of people who live nearby.

The Freedoms of a Service Animal

The main law governing the freedoms of service animals is the Americans with Disabilities Act. It establishes such privileges that service dogs enjoy as the ability to accompany their owner to any public place, including the cabin of a plane, and the ability to live with the owner in the apartment for free. Also, the law exempts handlers of service animals from paying pet fees.

In each specific field, for example, housing or traveling, there are additional acts that determine the rights not only of animals but also, for example, of the housing provider or air carrier. There is a special Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) which states the conditions under which a passenger can transport a service dog in the cabin of an airplane.

Flying With a Service Dog

At least 48 hours before the date of your flight, you must complete a special form to authorize the carriage of a service animal and attach all documentation concerning your dysfunction and the dog. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will inform you when the decision to transport the animal will be made.

If you bought your ticket in less than 48 hours, you can fill out this form at the airport before boarding. In any case, you will receive the final permit for the carriage of a service dog in the cabin after it has been inspected by the airline employees. The animal should be clean, well-behaved, and have a valid size and weight.

There are also rules to be followed during the flight. Animals must be harnessed, leashed, and even wear a muzzle. They cannot eat from the tables and sit in the exit row or block the way to the emergency exit. A service animal shouldn’t occupy a seat in front or beside the owner but should be placed in the feet or under a seat in a special kennel. A dog must behave properly and do not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

Possible Restrictions During Traveling With a Service Animal

In some cases, airlines may reject an application for the carriage of a service animal in the cabin. The most common reason for refusals is the laws on the import of animals that apply in the country where you are going. Therefore, it is better to study the laws of the required location in advance. You can find it easily on the airline website. Airlines always prioritize their reputation and the comfort of their passengers. That’s why if a dog is too big and heavy, an airline may ask you to wait for another flight with more free space in a plane or offer you to transport the animal as a pet.

There are some special rules for flights that last more than 8 hours. During that period of time animals may need relief. So, you have to prove that it won’t be necessary or that your kennel is applicable for animal relief. One more essential note, emotional support animals are not considered service animals by the DOT, so they are not allowed to fly in the cabin.