Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tips for Traveling with a Service Dog

Traveling with a service dog is now a smoother process than in years past. More and more businesses and establishments now understand and accept that Service Dogs and ESAs provide a valuable service to their handlers, and therefore are now more accepting of these animals. Additionally, the ADA has established special service dog laws that make it a simple process to bring your dog with you on flights and other travel-related adventures. Here are some tips to make traveling with a service dog as easy as possible.

1. Call Ahead

While airlines can accommodate your request to bring your service dog on the airplane, they may need advanced notice. Airlines often only allow a certain number of service dogs per flight and need at least 48 hours notice for flights longer than eight hours or for dogs that serve as emotional support dogs instead of service dogs. Check the website of the airline you are traveling on. Nowadays, each airline has an informational page on traveling with a service dog. Here are a few from some of the popular airlines:
Of note, Airlines are not allowed to charge an additional fee for traveling with a service dog under the ADA.

2. Bring Along Some Form of Service Dog Documentation

Although according to the Americans with Disabilities Act you are not required to show proof of your service dog's duties and training, it can be helpful to have a form of service dog documentation on hand regardless. Examples of service dog documentation can be:
  • An identification card
  • Written medical documentation
  • A service dog vest with tags
These can help others easily identify your dog as a service dog, and can make traveling with a service much easier. According to the Non Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel 14 CFR 382 Act, any of the above mentioned ways can be used to distinguish between your service dog and a pet.

Companion dogs and emotional support dogs do not fall under the ADA but may be allowed with proof of a letter from a licensed mental health professional.

3. Pack a Travel Bag for Your Service Dog

Traveling can be stressful for a dog, even a trained service dog. Pack your dogs’ favorite toys, treats and other comfort items to make them feel more relaxed on the flight or other forms of travel. Bring along a travel water bowl and a water bottle. Don't forget to bring a copy of their vaccination records as well in case of an emergency.

4. Stay Ahead of Nature’s Call

Before traveling, limit your dog’s food and water during the 24 hours prior to departure. Make sure that you give them a chance to go to the bathroom right before your leave as well and plan bathroom breaks accordingly during travel.

5. Research Your Destination’s Service Animal Laws

If you're traveling out of the United States, research your destination's service dog laws before you travel. Not all countries make exceptions for service dogs. With these helpful tips, we wish you safe travels! Follow these guidelines and traveling with your service dog will be an easy, enjoyable experience.

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