Pigs, Horses, and Service Animals on Airplanes to Help Disabled People Fly

Pigs, horses, and other service animals could board airplanes in the near future, according to proposals being considered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. If the new rules are instituted, the animals would be allowed to enter the plane's cabin with their owners.

While pigs, mini-horses, monkeys, seeing-eye dogs, and other reasonably-sized service animals could ride airplanes, ferrets, rodents, spiders, snakes and other reptiles cannot- so says the "Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Draft Technical Assistance Manual" published July 5 in the Federal Register.

"Generally, you must permit a passenger with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal," the manual, which made sure to mention those used for "emotional support," stated. "However, if you have a reasonable basis for questioning whether the animal is a service animal, you may ask for some verification."

The manual also directs that airport staff call a Complaint Resolution Official if they doubt the animals' status. Still, there are other requirements before a service animal is let on board.

"You must permit the service animal to accompany the passenger to her seat provided the animal does not obstruct the aisle or present any safety issues and the animal is behaving appropriately in a public setting," reads the draft manual. In addition, the disabled person must bring a "relief area" for the animal, and the service animal must be allowed by the flight's destination state or country.

The manual is currently open for public opinion and commentary until October. Afterwards, it will be closed, and become part of airlines' standard procedure. It is unlikely that it could be amended too much, however, as refusing service pets is a form of discrimination under the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986.

The DOT insists that the new manual "does not expand carriers' legal obligations or establish new requirements under the law," according to CNSNews.com.