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Government puts an end to emotional support animals on planes

You won’t have to worry about sharing a flight with a pet peacock anytime soon.

After years of debate, the government is putting an end to emotional support animals on planes.

In a story we reported in 2017, we exposed how easy it was to bring an untrained animal on a plane.

It was as easy as going online and filling out a questionnaire to get your pet on a plane with you, and that had people with trained service animals upset.

I checked my very hyper dog onto a flight a few years ago after answering some questions online and getting a doctor’s note from someone who never actually examined me.

The airline industry allowed emotional support animals as long as you had that doctor’s note, but it led to an explosion of unusual and unruly pets on planes.

Not anymore. Now the Department of Transportation says passengers with emotional support animals have to check them into the cargo hold and pay a fee.

The new rule will likely force those passengers to check their animals into the cargo hold — for a fee — or leave them at home.

The debate of emotional support animals heated up after high-profile incidents of conflict between passengers and airlines, including police being called to remove a woman with an emotional support squirrel from a 2018 Frontier Airlines flight. Frontier was one of the airlines that tightened its rules for service and support animals after a story about a peacock aboard a United Airlines flight went viral. American Airlines had banned goats, insects and hedgehogs.

The rule requires airlines to treat dogs trained to help people with psychiatric issues the same as other service animals. Advocates for veterans and others had pushed for that.

Airlines will be able to require owners to vouch for the dog’s health, behavior and training. Airlines can require people with a service dog to turn in paperwork up to 48 hours before a flight, but they can’t bar those travelers from checking in online like other passengers.

Airlines can require that service dogs to be leashed at all times, and they can bar dogs that show aggressive behavior. There have been incidents of emotional-support animals biting passengers.

This will not affect trained service animals for people with physical and psychiatric disabilities.

Michael Pierce was a Southwest Florida advocate who died in April after a long battle with cancer. He was blind and worked tirelessly on this issue.

He said in a previous interview, “You’ve got a dog whose training costs $50,000 and your life depends on the service of this dog.”

Sadly he did not get to see his hard work pay off.

The new rule for emotional support animals takes effect Jan. 1.

CBS News contributed to this report

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
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