This Just In: Specially-Trained Dogs the Only Service Animals Allowed on Board

I’m blind. My Seeing Eye dog Luna guides me safely wherever I need to go, and in the past, my blog posts here have been pretty clear about how I feel about people in America faking their pet is a service dog to get them into places they are not allowed. So clear, in fact, that when news came out last Wednesday that The Department of Transportation (DOT) will no longer consider an emotional support animal to be a service animal, a popular online dog magazine called The Bark contacted me to write an informational article about the DOT decision and how it paves the way for airlines to ban emotional support animals from flying for free in the cabin. My article retells a story I shared with you here a while back about a small so-called emotional support dog lunging and yipping at my Seeing Eye dog while we were checking in for a flight at Chicago’s Midway Airport. An excerpt from my article in The Bark:

Thousands of Americans who are blind or visually impaired use guide dogs. I trained with my first Seeing Eye dog, a black Labrador named Pandora, in 1991, 30 years ago. Whitney, my fourth guide dog, is 11 years old and retired in December last year. This past January I returned to the Seeing Eye in New Jersey to train with my fifth Seeing Eye dog. My January flight back home from Newark to O’Hare with Luna, a spunky two-year-old black Labrador, is the only time I’ve flown with her so far. My Seeing Eye dogs and I usually take about 20 flights a year to give presentations and speak at conferences. (Covid-19 has kept us close to home this year.)

You can read the entire Bark article here to learn more. Keep in mind that these regulations have not yet been officially published in the Federal Register, and federal regulations do not take effect until 30 days from the date they are published there. After that, when it comes to air travel, only dogs can be service animals. Companions used for emotional support won’t count. I see (ahem) this as good news.

Thank you, Department of Transportation, for listening to the concerns of people like me, who fly with qualified guide dogs. Now, once COVID-19 vaccines come through, Luna and I can feel confident about returning safely to our lives as regular air travelers.


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  1. Micheal Smith Says:

    High five

  2. Micheal Smith Says:


  3. Rita Munch Says:

    Are service dogs available for the elderly

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