Dog owners protest airlines' emotional support animal ban: 'I will not be sticking him in cargo'

Critics are fired up over the 'ruff' news

Some dog owners say they're sick as a dog over the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) final decision that emotional support animals (ESAs) are no longer considered service animals on flights, giving airlines the OK to ban them. Fired up over the "ruff" news, hundreds of animal lovers have signed petitions urging major carriers to let support animals fly.

Announced in December 2020 and effective Jan. 11, the DOT’s revision to the Air Carrier Access Act declared that ESAs will no longer be considered service animals on commercial flights. The federal Cabinet department cited over 15,000 comments on the proposal in making the change to the controversial travel topic.

Trained service dogs are still welcome aboard commercial flights, with proof of proper registration.

Trained service dogs are still welcome aboard commercial flights, with proof of proper registration. (iStock)

While trained service dogs are still welcome aboard commercial flights with proof of proper registration, carriers American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue have already banned ESAs from travel. Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines also announced on Monday that they would no longer be accepting bookings for ESAs.


Now, critics demand that the DOT change its course, making the case and raising support through online petitions. One such organizer is Leana Rendon, who hopes that lawmakers will consider reclassifying ESAs to be protected (and fly) under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a petition created on Jan. 7, Rendon explained that she relies on her ESA Charlie, who Yahoo Lifestyle reports is a German Shepherd, to relieve her social anxiety in public.

"I know I'm not the only one lucky enough to experience this type of bond with their dog," Rendon wrote in the appeal, which currently has over 600 signatures. "We can find ways to help others out there like us who have done all the right things, but are being punished for the ones who decided they didn't want to pay for a pet fee for their peacock," alluding to the infamous incident in which an emotional support peacock named Dexter and his owner were denied boarding a United Airlines flight in 2018.


"Please help those who actually need this privilege and do right by it," she urged. "I've done everything in my control to do right by my ESA and I will not be sticking him in cargo when we travel. … I know we are not the only ones out there who would continue to do our duties as ESA owners and to ensure the banning of them doesn't happen."

New signatures have also flooded an older Care2 petition demanding that the Federal Aviation Administration and DOT allow ESAs to travel on commercial flights; that pitch is currently over 85,000 signatures strong.