The ACAA, Air Carrier Access Act, requires commercial airlines to allow service dogs and emotional support animals to ride with their handlers in the cabin of the aircraft. This act does not allow service dogs in training this same protection, since they do not yet meet the legal definition of a service dog. Some airlines will permit qualified trainers to travel with their dog in training. Consult with airlines ahead of time to determine their policies, and what documentation they require.
Airlines may require evidence that your dog is a service dog. They may ask for written documentation such as: Doctor's order, presence of tags, or harness. They may ask what tasks your service dog has been trained to perform for you, and for you to describe how they perform this task.
People who travel with emotional support animals may need documentation to establish that they have a disability, and the reason the animal is traveling with them.
Documentation that may be required:
Health Certificate for your animal, including rabies and other vaccinations, from a licensed Veterinarian, on their own letterhead, not more than one year old, signed, dated, and including their license number.
Statement from a licensed health professional, on their own letterhead, or prescription pad, not more than one year old, signed, dated, and including their license number. There is an example below.
To Whom It May Concern: _______________________________ is a patient under my care. Their condition substantially limits one or more major life activity as described in the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act. They use a service dog or emotional support dog to help mitigate the effects of these disabilities.
Air Carrier Access Act
"The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination in air transportation by domestic and foreign air carriers against qualified individuals with physical or mental impairments. It applies only to air carriers that provide regularly scheduled services for hire to the public. Requirements address a wide range of issues including boarding assistance and certain accessibility features in newly built aircraft and new or altered airport facilities. "
You need to speak to the airlines directly to see how they apply that law to service dogs, especially if you are traveling out of the country.
1. Always contact the airline ahead of time to determine their requirements.
2. Always let the airline know you are traveling with a service dog when you make your reservations.
3. If your dog is small they can travel in a crate at your feet. A larger dog may fit at your feet without a crate, ask about a bulkhead seat, if not you may need to purchase a second ticket to give them room at your feet, or have them travel in cargo.
4. It is best to get specific measurements to make sure your dog will fit in the space allowed.
5. Take time to train your dog to scoot under chairs and settle. Your dog may have to crouch and back into place.
6. Control food intake ahead of long flights, as you would before surgery. Keep them on their normal routine up until 4 or 6 hours before flight time. No food or water after midnight for an early morning flight. Give small amounts of water during the flight to prevent dehydration.
*Full and immediate access to food and water when you land.
7. Even though your dog is completely potty trained under normal circumstances, the first major trip, or plane ride may not go as well. Be prepared. Make sure your dog has an opportunity to go potty before you leave. Ask about access to potty areas. Some airports have areas inside the airport. Ask for specifics, it may be a courtyard, or small room. Some dogs will not use the room even though it smells like a potty room. You might train your dog ahead of time to use a potty pad on command, and place it in the room. Take a potty break as soon as possible after you land. Young dogs may not go potty when you give them the opportunity, but beware that they may not warn you when you are walking around. When you notice they hesitate or have stopped, it may be too late. Carry poop bags and baby wipes so you are prepared to clean up just in case.
My dogs have incredible retention. When we are gone all day, they will typically wait until we get back home to their area to go potty. When we are traveling, I put them on a long line so they can run. That will stimulate them to go potty. An enclosed courtyard is even better.
Pay close attention, and make sure your dog eats, drinks, pees and poops on a regular basis when you travel.
Once you arrive at your destination, if your dog is not interested in their food at meal time, you may want to mix in a few treats to get them started.
Go prepared. Carry poop bags, baby wipes, and paper towels with you. Always clean up after your dog.
2009-16 HERITAGE SERVICE DOGS
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