DOT Issues New Rule to Improve Pet and Service Animal Safety on U.S. Airlines

Paralyzed Veterans of America member Holly Koester and her service dogIndividuals with disabilities flying with their service animals will soon have a clearer picture of an airline’s safety record when it comes to transporting animals.

A final rule issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT) will hold airlines more accountable for ensuring safe air transportation of passengers’ pets and/or service animals. The rule takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Among other things, the final rule expands the reporting requirements on pet safety to more U.S. carriers, and requires that all covered carriers file a calendar-year report to include the total number of animals that were lost, injured or died during air transport in the calendar year, if any.

As many Paralyzed Veterans of America members and the veteran community at large travel with service dogs, the new regulations will make the process of selecting an airline more transparent, said Lee Page, associate advocacy director of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

“Anyone traveling with an assistive animal is going to fall under these new rules,” Page said. “We have a lot of veterans who travel on planes with dogs, whether for use as a guide dog, for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other disabilities and conditions.”

The Transportation Department publishes the reports received from carriers involving the loss, injury or death of animals during air transportation in its monthly Air Travel Consumer Report. In 2013, carriers reported 30 pet deaths, 27 pet injuries and one lost pet, according to the data.

For more information on preparing for air travel with a service animal, consult the Association for Airline Passenger Rights’ Passenger Guide to Pet Safe Flying.

Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s advocacy on behalf of all people with disabilities

Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and  

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    DOT Issues New Rule to Improve Pet and Service Animal Safety on U.S. Airlines