Advocates Outraged At Plan To Charge Air Fare For Service
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 1, 2006
STERLING HEIGHTS, MICHIGAN--Advocates of people who use service animals are trying to stop the U.S. Department of Transportation from allowing changes to a federal access law they claim would unfairly discriminate against them.
Several months ago, DOT proposed a change to the Air Carrier Access Act that would allow airlines to force passengers with disabilities to either purchase separate airline tickets for their service animals, have the animals placed in the cargo hold, or wait for a later flight.
The law currently requires airlines to allow passengers to bring service animals on board to sit at their feet. The DOT proposal appears to be a response to pressure from airlines that want to charge for animals that are too large to fit into that small space.
"This is going to negatively affect thousands of people," Pat Paterno, manager of media relations at Leader Dogs for the Blind, told the Oakland Tribune.
"This is not fair," said Rod Haneline, chief operating officer of Leader Dogs.
"The dog is your choice of a mobility tool. You're being discriminated against, in essence, because your choice of a mobility tool doesn't fit perfectly into their seat."
The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) and other advocates reportedly have sent more than 1,150 responses criticizing the proposed rule through the Transportation Department's Public Comment website.
"If you are as outraged as members of IAADP, we strongly urge you to get in touch with your congressional representative and senators. Let them know about this important issue and ask them to contact the DOT on your behalf," said IAADP President Ed Eames in a statement on the organization's website.
"Leader dogs may soon need a ticket to fly" (Oakland Tribune)
Air Carrier Access Act -- Service Animals (Independent Living Research Utilization)
"Emergency Call To Action" (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners)