Officials allow animals providing emotional support on planes

Monday, May 12th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Washington-AP) -- Airline passengers who rely on cats, monkeys or other animals for emotional support may be able to bring the animals into a plane's seating compartment under revised federal guidelines.

Previously, cabin permission generally was given only for animals that helped people with physical disabilities, usually a blind person who needed a guide dog.

The airlines industry and advocates for the disabled asked the government to clarify and expand the definition of a ``service animal,'' since more people now use other animals like cats or monkeys.

Transportation Department officials say these animals are used for a wider variety of functions, such as helping to pull wheelchairs or alerting a person with epilepsy that a seizure is imminent.

Other animals now can be taken aboard for emotional support. However, passengers who use this provision may be required to show proof from a doctor or psychologist that the animal is required to help with a mental condition.