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New DOT Service Animal definitions

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tgstubbs1

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So, no more horses on Amtrak because of this rule change?


"The U.S. Department of Transportation just announced a major revision to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) with specific updates to the Traveling by Air with Service Animals section. In it, the agency makes a final ruling on emotional support animals. When the final ruling goes into effect, 30 days after the publication date in the Federal Register, emotional support animals will no longer be considered service animals."
 

PVD

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The ACAA is for airlines not Amtrak. But the biggest offenders were the people using the "Emotional Support Animal" category to avoid paying pet fees and keep them in carriers, this caused unfair criticism of those people who have real need for real service animals.. If a miniature horse was a legit service animal, I believe it would still be permitted on Amtrak. Amtrak was not required (as far as I know) to carry ESA which the airlines were.
 

tgstubbs1

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Ok. Well, once an Amtrak conductor told me they carried a full size horse in the baggage area on a Superliner because the owner claimed she would sue Amtrak.
 

PVD

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Miniature horses have been used as service animals, never heard of a full size. If it was carried in baggage, it was not available to assist the person in question, which makes their claim pretty suspicious. But with the track record of Amtrak backing its employees or having senior management instantly available to make a decision, why stick your neck out.
 

tgstubbs1

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Miniature horses have been used as service animals, never heard of a full size. If it was carried in baggage, it was not available to assist the person in question, which makes their claim pretty suspicious. But with the track record of Amtrak backing its employees or having senior management instantly available to make a decision, why stick your neck out.
I guess it was probably for 'emotional support' BS, I mean horse****😞.
 

PVD

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Amtrak does not (under its rules) carry support animals except if the are traveling as pets.
Service Animals
Service animals are animals that are trained to perform a specific task for the benefit of a person with a disability, and are permitted in all areas where passengers are allowed. Amtrak personnel may ask what task(s) the service animal performs. Carry-on pet guidelines are for animals for which no claim of service is made, and do not pertain to passengers traveling with service animals.
Pets and Animals Not Considered Service Animals
The following types of animals are considered pets (not service animals) and are welcome on Amtrak if they fit into our carry-on pet guidelines:
  • Comfort Animals: Animals not trained to perform a specific task, but which are said to provide emotional support or to relieve anxiety simply by their presence (for example, by the passenger holding or stroking the animal).
  • Search and Rescue Dogs:* Animals that are trained generally, but not to assist a particular passenger.
  • Police Dogs:* Other than dogs brought on trains by the Amtrak Police Department.
* If the passenger or agency feels an exception needs to be made for search and rescue dogs or police dogs, contact the Amtrak Police Department for assistance.
 

Steve4031

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Amtrak does not (under its rules) carry support animals except if the are traveling as pets.
Service Animals
Service animals are animals that are trained to perform a specific task for the benefit of a person with a disability, and are permitted in all areas where passengers are allowed. Amtrak personnel may ask what task(s) the service animal performs. Carry-on pet guidelines are for animals for which no claim of service is made, and do not pertain to passengers traveling with service animals.
Pets and Animals Not Considered Service Animals
The following types of animals are considered pets (not service animals) and are welcome on Amtrak if they fit into our carry-on pet guidelines:
  • Comfort Animals: Animals not trained to perform a specific task, but which are said to provide emotional support or to relieve anxiety simply by their presence (for example, by the passenger holding or stroking the animal).
  • Search and Rescue Dogs:* Animals that are trained generally, but not to assist a particular passenger.
  • Police Dogs:* Other than dogs brought on trains by the Amtrak Police Department.
* If the passenger or agency feels an exception needs to be made for search and rescue dogs or police dogs, contact the Amtrak Police Department for assistance.

This is pretty clear. The apparent problem is that if a customer escalates a complaint, then management does not back up the employee decision. Thus employees avoid enforcing the rules.

It is hard for me to imagine a horse willingly being loaded into a baggage car and then not harming itself while the train is in motion. Horse trailers hauled by pick up trucks have stalls that appear to restrict the horse's movement and also limit the horse being tossed around on curves and stops. No such restraints are available on an Amtrak baggage car as far as I know, and the absence of these could be problematic for the horse. One emergency break application wuld be all it takes.
 

MARC Rider

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This is pretty clear. The apparent problem is that if a customer escalates a complaint, then management does not back up the employee decision. Thus employees avoid enforcing the rules.

It is hard for me to imagine a horse willingly being loaded into a baggage car and then not harming itself while the train is in motion. Horse trailers hauled by pick up trucks have stalls that appear to restrict the horse's movement and also limit the horse being tossed around on curves and stops. No such restraints are available on an Amtrak baggage car as far as I know, and the absence of these could be problematic for the horse. One emergency break application wuld be all it takes.
I see no reason why a horse couldn't be carried in a baggage car. They had "40 and 8's" in Europe 100 years ago, and they were able to carry horses (or people) quite well. However, you're probably correct that they would need to set up stalls, padding, etc. for the horse.
 

OBS

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I see no reason why a horse couldn't be carried in a baggage car. They had "40 and 8's" in Europe 100 years ago, and they were able to carry horses (or people) quite well. However, you're probably correct that they would need to set up stalls, padding, etc. for the horse.
And who cleans up the mess?
 

tgstubbs1

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And who cleans up the mess?
You know that guy told me this story, and he got me to believe him.
But a horse on the baggage car floor would be pretty unstable, and I doubt a horse would be very keen on climbing aboard.
But Amtrak employees go the extra mile to help out, so maybe it's true.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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So, no more horses on Amtrak because of this rule change?
This really isn't all that of a substantial change.

The US Dept of Justice, way back in 2010, issued official guidance on Service Animals under the ADA.

They stated that only dogs are recognized as Service Animals under the ADA. Though, later in the same document, they added that miniature horses can be a Service Animal too.

The specifically stated that dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
 

PVD

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It doesn't really affect Amtrak, but it is a big change in the Air Carrier Access Act. Airlines were forced to do things that Amtrak didn't have to do, ESA were never allowed on Amtrak. It got out of hand.
 

Qapla

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Horses walk right into horse trailers in non-padded areas all the time - even trailers being pulled by semi tractors. They can stand on a wooden floor just fine ... they can even stand on a metal floor if it is not too slick. They have pretty good balance and sleep standing up.
 

Acela150

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So being that I just flew to California and back to Philly twice in a week I can comment on this topic with firsthand experience.

I flew with Southwest Airlines, 3 of my 4 flights had some type of animal on board. Only one of them was a legitimate service dog. The owner had the appropriate licenses displayed on the dogs harness, I could also tell because of the dogs demeanor. On that same flight there was a gentleman who had a German Sheppard that was mixed with some type of other dog breed. The dog had a service animal vest on it. But unlike the previous dog that I mentioned it had no licenses and the dog was way to hyper to be a service animal.

Now I do have to say that people that pull that kind of stunt are incredibly selfish. I have some pretty harsh opinions about it that I'll save and keep to myself. But their is a sad reality to people that go out and buy service dog vests on Amazon. It's folks like them that ruin it for people that have Service dogs for a serious medical condition. If they can spend $30 on a vest for the dog, they can pay to have the dog fly in the hull of the aircraft.

As to Amtrak and "Emotional Support Animals". Only Service Animals are allowed. During my time at the call center in Philly I dealt with one person who was booking a trip on the Auto Train. A Male family member (Can't remember if it was Husband, Dad, Brother, etc.) could not travel without his dog. So I was very delicate with the situation. I first asked if the dog was a Certified Service Dog. She said no, but they were in the process of getting the Dog certified. I asked if she knew if the dog would be certified by the time of the trip. (Which was about 6 months or so away) She said that she was "Fairly Certain". She did say that she had some type of Doctor's note that stated that the passenger would not be able to travel without his Dog. Since this is a matter that could involve ADA Laws and more, Once I got all of the pertinent details that were needed, I talked to my immediate Supervisor about the situation, who consulted a few other "high up managers" at the Call Center. What all of us concluded was, book the trip for the passenger while listing his dog as a Service Animal. But... It was also agreed that the passenger would need to display the proper paperwork at the time of travel that showed the dog had been certified. It was also agreed that if no proof of certification was provided the passenger would be offered a full refund. Bottom line is, when something comes up that is extremely sensitive such as this. Use the CYA rule. Cover your a##.
 

MARC Rider

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Once when I was in the Club Acela in DC, there was a lady who had a dog she claimed was a service dog, but was not very well behaved. The lady herself was a bit "off" too, and when the lounge attendant came by to suggest that she control the beast, she claimed it was a service dog under the ADA. The attendant said that even if that were true, the dog had to behave himself, and he was within his rights to eject her. I didn't find out how it turned out, because I had to board my train. Fortunately for me, she wasn't taking the train I was.
 

PVD

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Real service dogs are generally very well trained and behave properly. Being a service dog does not exempt it from behavior and control rules. If the animal (or the passenger) do not follow the rules, of course they can be ejected.
 

tgstubbs1

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Of course it's not good for people to essentially scam their animals onto a plane or train, but couldn't it be a sign that people need (or want) a transportation solution for their animals that doesn't exist?
 

PVD

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In the case of airplanes, the option already existed, but people didn't want to pay for it. The ESA exception (scam) allowed them to fly for free instead of paying the pet charge.
 

tgstubbs1

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In the case of airplanes, the option already existed, but people didn't want to pay for it. The ESA exception (scam) allowed them to fly for free instead of paying the pet charge.

PETA recommends people never transport animals in air cargo holds.

How do you know these people based their decisions for financial reasons?
 

PVD

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Larger animals are an issue, cargo holds have been a problem. They are also a serious issue for certain breeds that have known respiratory issues in hot weather or confined space. I'm referring to smaller animals kept in the cabin. If passengers want to bring the pet (if it is one that is allowed) there is a set of rules. I guess you could add selfishness, sense of entitlement, the rules don't apply to me because I don't like them to the list. It all serves to hurt the people who have real (recognized) needs.
 
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