Philippine Airlines (PAL) now allows service and emotional support dogs in the cabin with passengers. A small progressive step towards more anima- friendly flights, this announcement is a big relief for those with disabilities or need mental and emotional support.

Emotional support dogs versus service dogs

Here’s a quick comparison according to the American Kennel Club.

What they do

Emotional support dogs: Emotional support animals (ESAs) provide emotional support and comfort. They can help ease anxiety, depression, and certain phobias.
Service dogs: Service animals help people with disabilities lead a more independent life. They can help do work or perform tasks for a person with disability.

Training

Emotional support dogs: Trained to help human companions deal with challenges that may otherwise compromise their quality of life.
Service dogs: Trained to perform tasks directly related to a person’s disability. There are different types of service dogs, such as – Guide dogs- Medical alert dogs- Psychiatric service dogs.

Accommodations

Emotional support dogs: Cannot accompany their companions into certain restaurants, shopping malls, and other establishments.
Service dogs: Generally allowed where the public is allowed.

Emotional support versus psychiatric service dogs

Not to confuse ESAs with psychiatric service dogs, ESAs provide emotional support simply with their presence. Psychiatric service dogs, on the other hand, are extensively trained to help their human companion cope with a mental illness and to keep them safe from hazardous situations – for instance, they can detect the beginning of psychiatric episodes.

Get on board!

Not to confuse ESAs with psychiatric service dogs, ESAs provide emotional support simply with their presence. Psychiatric service dogs, on the other hand, are extensively trained to help their human companion cope with a mental illness and to keep them safe from hazardous situations – for instance, they can detect the beginning of psychiatric episodes.

1. They do not accept animals other than dogs.
2. Dogs may be denied boarding if not trained to deal with crowds and stay calm in public
3. Only allowed for flights to and from the United States.
4. Must provide an advance notice of at least 48 hours prior to flight departure.

Required papers

For passengers to travel with an emotional support dog, they must provide current documentation (acquired one year ago at the most) with letterhead from a mental health professional or medical doctor who is treating the passenger’s mental health-related disability, with the following conditions.

1. The passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM IV).
2. The passenger needs the emotional support of psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger’s destination.
3. The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor, and the passenger is under his or her professional care.
4. The date and type of mental health professional’s or medical doctor’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued should be indicated

More information online

It’s best to be prepared when travelling with a furry friend. Because the internet can be confusing, read about preparations needed for flights with a service or support dog, straight from the source.

1. Go to PAL’s website ,www.philippineairlines.com.
2. On the upper right side, hover your cursor over TRAVEL INFORMATION.
3. Under SPECIAL ASSISTANCE, click on SERVICE DOGS and voila! You’ll see everything PAL needs you to know for you to bring your furry friend with you.

Prepping your furry pal

We have to remember that PAL can deny boarding if an animal companion isn’t equipped to deal with crowds and public spaces.

If you have a support or service dog, then you’re probably in tune with what they’re capable of. Try to simulate an environment similar to an airport and see how long they can stay in one place without showing distress.

While most support or service dogs have already been trained for these circumstances, it doesn’t hurt to make sure there won’t be any hiccups along the way.

Flight checklist

Next time you’re leaving with an animal companion, make sure you’ve ticked these boxes.

1. Notify the airline that you’re coming with an ESA or service dog. As much as possible, do this once you’ve booked your ticket, although you can notify them at least 48 hours before your flight.
2. Try to simulate airport and cabin environment so your dog can get used to it and so that you can prepare yourself as well.
3. Try to get the most accurate schedule (if you haven’t yet) of when your dog pees and poops, then plan ahead.
4. Make sure you have all the necessary documents. Contact the airlines beforehand to make sure all your documents are good to go before you arrive at the airport.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s January 2020 issue.

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