NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — North Carolina Senator Richard Burr introduced legislation earlier this year that he says will protect the ability of people with disabilities travelling with trained service animals.
The legislation plans to define the term “service animal” more clearly under the ACAA, the Air Carriers Access Act. They will also punish people who falsely claim their pet is a service animal.
The bill would require federal agencies to have a certain standard of behavior training for animals that will work on an aircraft.
The bill will also make sure the ACAA definition of “service animal” is the same definition written under the American Disabilities Act. This means animals must be recognized by the ADA in order to be allowed on airplanes.
“So I do think it’s important that when standards get set, organizations meet those standards and there’s some way to prove that the dogs come from those organizations,” said Cece McConnell, paws4people Deputy Executive Director of Client Services and Training Programs. “Because those are the organizations that have gone through processes have put things in place, so that they are truly being trained for the services they are providing.”
Under the bill, animals must be trained to do certain work for people with disabilities. Therefore, animals who solely provide emotional support do not meet the requirements.
While the bill does have support from the airline industry, flight attendant associations and some service dog providers, it still has a long way to go. Right now, it’s sitting in the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.