Editorials

Bravo to Delta for new guide dog rules

Re the Jan. 19 article, “Good dog, bad dog…Delta wants to know before you board,” Delta Air Lines should be applauded for taking the lead on addressing the growing problem of unqualified animals being passed off as “service animals” on airplanes.

I have been a service-animal user for 17 years. The three guide dogs with whom I have had the privilege of working were trained and credentialed at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Dogs from accredited training centers are bred for service to the blind.

They receive at least two years of intensive training to qualify as service animals.

Every untrained animal that lacks the proper credentials to be on an airplane is a clear and present danger to my guide dog and me.

Delta Air Lines has taken an enormous step toward doing the right thing, but so much more is needed. Requiring proof of animal health, vaccination records, and assurance from the owner that a given animal will behave appropriately does not address the question of whether that animal is qualified to be on an aircraft.

Fraudulent certifications for “service animals” can be purchased with a few clicks and for a few dollars online, and are rampant. Travelers download bogus certifications that enable them to travel with their pets in the cabin of the aircraft.

The airlines should require proof of service animal certification from a list of federally vetted or acceptable accredited training sites of service animals for specific disabilities.

Anything short of this denies people with disabilities the safety and security to which they are entitled.

Virginia A. Jacko,

president,

chief executive officer,

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired

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