Canadian Transportation Agency issues final decision about travelling with emotional support animals

June 23, 2023 – Gatineau, QC – Canadian Transportation Agency

The Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) issued a final decision no. 105-at-c-a-2023 related to travelling with Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).

The Agency determined that carriers are only required to accommodate dogs as ESAs, and only under specific conditions.

Persons with Disabilities would have to meet the following conditions for their Emotional Support Dog (ESD) to be accepted in the passenger cabin:

  • They must provide proof from a physician or medical health professional that they are being treated for a mental health disability and that they require an emotional support dog (ESD) to accommodate that disability;
  • They must submit, at least 96 hours in advance of travel, a veterinary certificate identifying the dog and the person with a disability, and confirming the dog's current vaccination and health status. If the timing for the veterinary certification has not otherwise been prescribed in the jurisdiction of the country, province, state or territory where the person travels to or from, the certificate must be dated within two months prior to the date of initial travel set out in the itinerary;
  • The ESD must fit comfortably in an appropriate animal carrier that must fit and be kept at the seat — or in the case of air travel, under the seat in front—of the person with a disability for the duration of the trip. The animal carrier must also meet the carrier’s conditions and restrictions for carriage of animal carriers in the cabin, and the ESD must remain in the carrier for the duration of its time in the passenger cabin; and,
  • They must demonstrate that the ESD meets all travel, entry or exit requirements of the country, province, state or territory they travel to or from, which includes providing all required documentation, as applicable.

Persons with a disability travelling with their ESDs in compliance with these conditions must not be charged for this accommodation.

Carriers may refuse transportation to any person with a disability and their ESD if it poses a threat to the health or safety of others by exhibiting aggressive or other inappropriate behaviour, or if the passenger is unable to control the ESD or removes it from its pet carrier during travel.

The Agency determined that requiring carriers to accept species of ESAs other than dogs would cause them undue hardship as would the unrestricted carriage of Emotional Support Dogs (ESDs) due to health and safety risks, animal behaviour and welfare concerns, and the impacts of fraudulent representation of pets as ESDs.

This decision does not impact the regulatory requirements for carriers to accept service dogs, which are dogs that have been individually trained to perform a task to assist a person with a disability, as opposed to ESAs, which are not trained to perform a specific task but provide comfort and emotional support to persons with mental health-related disabilities.

More background information on the proceedings of this decision can be consulted on our website.

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