ESA Weekly News December 10th: Lawmakers in Missouri Put Foot Down on Fake Assistance AnimalsReading Time: 3 minutes
The holiday season is upon us. Thousands of people will fly with their companion animals soon. So, it’s important to know what policies will affect your travels. In this week’s emotional support animal news report, we’re looking at United Airlines ESA Policy changes throughout 2019. Get a cup of coffee and take notes!
Lawmakers in Missouri Put Foot Down on Fake Assistance Animals
Lawmakers in Missouri are doing everything within their power to rein in the misrepresentation of pets as assistance animals, and consequently, reduce the number of animals in public places. The proposed change to the legislature would make misrepresenting an emotional support animal a misdemeanor.
Republican Rep. Chrissy Sommer said “We want to protect those people who don’t have a choice about having a service dog,” She also added that stricter rules and regulations concerning assistance animals would be helpful for property and business owners to know exactly what their legal rights are when it comes to allowing onto their property or into their establishments.
Legislation session will begin on January 8th, which is when lawmakers will push for Senate Bill 750 and House Bill 1319 to be passed.
ESAs Fly With United Airlines, But Read the Policy!
In January of this year, United Airlines banned lots of animals from their flights. Before, even squirrels and some birds could fly. Now, only cats, dogs, and miniature horses can board a flight with their owners.
This decision came after several incidents with non-conventional companion animals on United flights. Several passengers were bitten or bothered by these animals’ presence. Even flight attendants had complaints! Now, the consensus is that flights are more peaceful.
Recently, United Airlines let younger puppies and kittens fly with their owners, too. Before this summer, ESAs had to be at least four months of age to board a plane. Now, there are no age restrictions. As long as Fido and Mittens have all their vaccines updated, they’re on the fly-list.
There has been another recent change to the United Airlines ESA Policy. Before the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued new guidelines, ESAs couldn’t board flights longer than eight hours. Now, they can! United looks at ESAs on long flights on a case-by-case basis. If they can behave and relieve themselves in the proper areas, they’re good to go.
It’s also important to point out that there are no more breed restrictions aboard these flights. The DOT was clear: all ESA breeds should fly with their owners. No more bans on snub-nosed breeds, like Persians and Pugs.
Man Registers Beehive as…”Service Animal”?
David Keller isn’t the first to point out how fake ESAs and service animals harm people with disabilities. To prove a point, he went online and registered a beehive as his “service animal”.
Keller went online and paid for a “service animal registration.” All it took was uploading a picture of the beehive in question and paying a fee. Then, he was put on a list and told that that made his bees service animals.
He wanted to draw the attention of his community and elected officials to this issue. Keller had seen people passing off pets as service animals, just to get the perks that come with having a service animal. Now, the ball is in the court of lawmakers, to decide whether or not to crack down on these cases.
CertaPet’s Thoughts on This Week’s News
As with all changes to legislature regarding adding rules and restrictions of the misrepresentation of ESAs, we are in full support of the proposed bills in Missouri. As more people turn to ESAs as a form of alternative treatment for their mental illness, government needs to protect people who truly need ESAs, by making it harder for people to pass off pets as assistance animals in order to take advantage of the legal protection ESAs enjoy. We will be keeping an eye out for more information on these Bills in the coming year, so stay tuned!
Before you travel, you need to check your airline’s ESA Policy. As you can see from what we reported on today, these rules change all the time! It’s important to keep up-to-date on everything. And don’t forget that depending on where you’re traveling to, there may be additional restrictions.
David Keller’s attempt to make his bees service animals is hilarious—but incredibly sad, too. It’s a shame people exploit the system. It hurts those who rightfully need service animals to live a healthy day-to-day life. We hope lawmakers keep cracking down on fake service animals and ESAs. Everyone will win in the end.
If you live with a mental health disorder, it may be time to get an emotional support animal. A real one, not a phony excuse for an ESA. CertaPet connects you with a licensed mental health professional in your state. To get started, take our 5-minute pre-screening test for free. We’ll set up an appointment for you with a therapist. They’ll be the ones issuing an ESA letter if you qualify as an ESA owner.
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