Summary of the evidence received by the Agency on Emotional Support Animals in 2019
Table of contents
The Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR) – which came into effect on July 10, 2019 – represent an important step forward in accessible transportation. These regulations establish legally binding requirements on services, communications, training, and security and border screening, as well as technical standards for equipment.
During the development of the ATPDR, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) postponed consideration of a number of complex issues to a later date, but committed to revisiting these issues once the ATDPR came into effect. On December 3, 2019, the CTA published a consultation document seeking feedback from industry, the community of persons with disabilities, and the public on, amongst other issues, whether to require federal transportation service providers (TSPs) to accept the carriage of emotional support animals (ESAs).
In recent years, a growing number of people have sought to travel with Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). The ATPDR already require TSPs to accept service dogs for transport and permit them to accompany a person with a disability on board a vehicle, but do not require the acceptance of ESAs. As the term is used in the ATPDR, a key distinction between service dogs and ESAs is that service dogs have been professionally trained to perform clear, specific tasks related to their handlers’ disability, while ESAs have not. Instead, the potential benefit of an ESA is the value its presence may offer, in this case, during travel which can be stressful for some travellers.
The United States Air Carrier Access Act rule required the carriage of ESAs since a 2008 amendment codified prior guidance, but many problems arose with the implementation of this requirement. After conducting extensive consultations and working to effectively balance the interests of TSPs, persons with disabilities and the public, on November 30, 2020, the United States Department of Transport (US DOT) passed a final rule that does not require TSPs to accommodate ESAs, but rather, allows them to treat them as pets. According to the US DOT, this approach reduces confusion among airlines, passengers, airports, and other stakeholders by more closely aligning the DOT's definition of a service animal under the Air Carrier Access Act with the US Department of Justice's definition of a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The US DOT is also of the view that service animals are generally provided enhanced training in how to behave in public, while ESAs may not have received this degree of training. The US DOT also found persuasive the information provided by airlines and other stakeholders indicating that ESAs are responsible for a significant percentage of the incidents of animal misbehavior onboard aircraft. Finally, US DOT predicted that its exclusion of ESAs would result in an overall reduction in the number of uncrated animals onboard aircraft, thereby reducing the number of animal misbehavior incidents and the number of potential allergic reactions onboard aircraft.
The evidence summarized in this document results from the Agency's 90-day consultation, which period began December 3, 2019 and closed on February 28, 2020. A list of written submissions can be found as an appendix to this report.
- Most industry representatives from the airline industry objected to regulations that would require airlines to accept ESAs. Principal concerns included loss of revenue from fraud, and misbehaviour causing safety and operational concerns. Unions in particular expressed concerns for the safety and well-being of their members employed in the airline industry, and suggested that TSPs should not be required to accept any ESAs under any conditions.
- TSPs including union representatives also indicated that, if permitted, the CTA must implement appropriate controls, such as medical documentation from a healthcare practitioner who is treating a patient in relation to disability, and from a veterinarian or specialized organization that confirms the animal will not bark, growl, act aggressively or need to relieve itself. Other suggestions included behavioral and training requirements, advance notice requirements, limiting the number of animals per flight, establishing maximum weight and size, distancing animals from travellers with allergies, controlling animals within travel carriers and prohibiting pregnant animals.
- Some industry representatives – for instance some smaller air TSPs – seemed more open to the acceptance of ESAs, but they emphasized the importance of documentation and wanted most decisions to be left to the discretion of the carrier.
- Some industry representatives from modes other than air were generally in favour of regulations that would require TSPs to accommodate ESAs. These submissions typically supported a range of stipulations particularly with respect to appropriate documentation for ESAs, with one submission suggesting that a standard license for ESAs should be introduced.
The Community of Persons with Disabilities
- A number of organizations that represent persons with disabilities – and particularly organizations that represent service dog users –expressed opposition to regulations that would require airlines to accept ESAs. They emphasized that their service animals were required to undergo much more rigorous training, and that untrained ESAs posed a safety threat to themselves, their animals, and fellow travellers.
- Some organizations representing the community of persons with disabilities – for example Barrier Free Canada – suggested that it would be important for ESAs to have behavioural training comparable to that required of service dogs.
- A number of community submissions supported introducing requirements for TSPs to accommodate ESAs, pointing to evidence indicating that ESAs have the potential to encourage movement and social interaction, which contributes to improved mental health and management of mental illness. While these submissions supported regulations requiring the carriage of ESAs and service animals other than dogs, they also frequently emphasized the importance of training and documentation requirements standardized by the CTA or vetted by third parties.
- People who travel with ESAs emphasized the importance of being able to travel with their ESAs, for their mental health and to prevent isolation. These submissions typically acknowledged concerns with the transportation of ESAs and the importance of appropriate behaviour, training, and documentation.
- Many members of the general public expressed opposition to allowing greater accommodations for ESAs when travelling, based on:
- misbehaviour of ESAs
- fraudulent claims from people wanting to travel with their pets, and
- other travellers concerned about allergies to animals.
- The extent of opposition in public submissions varied, with some persons opposing the carriage of any animals in aircraft cabins. Most, however, acknowledged the legitimacy of trained guide dogs.
- Most people who supported regulatory requirements for TSPs to accept ESAs also emphasized the importance of proper certification and training, with some advocating the establishment of federal standards including the establishment of a CTA travel certificate program. These requirements were also combined with additional conditions that included limitations on the number, size, and location of animals on board transportation vehicles.
Questions to the public
1. Whether ESAs should be accepted? What conditions, if any, should apply?
The vast majority of submissions opposed the development of regulations to require the carriage of ESAs by TSPs.
Industry Question 1
Some TSPs provided data showing an increase in requests for transportation of ESAs from previous years.
Marine Atlantic indicated that the total number of pre-approved ESAs carried has been steadily increasing, from 35 in 2017, to 81 in 2018, and 101 in 2019. Marine Atlantic also noted that these figures show the travellers who followed Marine Atlantic's pre-approval process, but there were significantly more who did not and were dealt with on a case-by-case basis at terminals and onboard vessels.
WestJet noted that the volume of service and support animals transported increased by about 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 and that ESAs led this growth with an increase of approximately 63 percent, while other service animal transport grew by only approximately 30 percent.
According to Airlines for America (A4A), the number of passengers traveling with ESAs increased from 540,000 to 1.13 million in the past three years (at the time of consultation), quickly approaching the number of passengers travelling with pets in US airline cabins and outpacing the growth in the number of passengers traveling with pets and with service animals. Moreover, A4A noted that for each of A4A's members in 2019, the increase in passengers traveling with ESAs has outpaced overall passenger growth and service animal growth by at least two percent, and in some cases up to 21.8 percent.
According to IATA, the US DOT's previous broad regulation and the steady growth of online “licensed mental health professionals” willing to provide the necessary documentation for a fee has resulted in the exponential growth in the number of ESAs traveling on US aircraft. A4A asserts that the increase in ESAs is not simply a product of the increase in travellers, but is reflective of fraudulent behavior.
According to A4A, the US DOT has seen a dramatic increase in service animal related complaints. ESAs are not recognized as service animals in hotels, restaurants, other forms of public transportation, and most importantly, airports. Moreover, they are not aware of any other jurisdiction that explicitly recognizes ESAs as service animals.
The Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) submitted that the CTA should defer regulations in this area until the new US DOT rules take effect and the CTA has had an opportunity to assess the benefits and shortfalls of pursuing similar regulatory policies. The National Airlines Council of Canada also urged the Agency to fully align with the US DOT.
Safety and Operational Concerns
Marine Atlantic highlighted that safety and operational concerns are especially true in transportation, where animals may encounter many sights, sounds, smells and situations they are not accustomed to, including the movement of the vessel in the case of marine TSPs. TSPs may be faced with additional cleaning requirements should ESAs be allowed in all passenger areas.
Air Canada noted that it had experienced a number of instances of ESAs harming flight attendants and other travellers, urinating and defecating onboard (including on seats), and exhibiting other forms of misbehavior on board. Air Canada has also faced a number of instances of travellers refusing to follow cabin crew instructions to control their animals and keep them on the floor of the aircraft, off the seat or out of the aisle, creating significant safety concerns. It expressed concern that unrestrained animals on a seat could injure others in the case of sudden turbulence, and unrestrained animals in the aisle could impede the evacuation of other travellers in the event of an emergency. Similarly, when pet owners who have followed the correct procedures see animals that are clearly untrained and are not recognizable service animals out of their carriers, these pet owners often also remove their animals from their carriers, amplifying the potential safety risks. Air Canada reported that this has become a significant issue for cabin crew.
The GTAA noted that increases in ESAs would lead to sanitation in airports becoming a significant issue and the requirement for dedicated crews to ensure cleanliness at airports. The number of service animal relief areas may need to be increased and the presence of some animals may pose an allergy risk to travellers and airport workers.
The GTAA also submitted that if there are not proper rules around leashing and restraint of ESAs, then the travelling public and workers at airports are at risk. At Toronto Pearson, untrained ESAs have attacked other travellers, created unsanitary conditions by relieving themselves in various areas of the terminal, interfered with trained working dogs (like canines used by government agencies) or certified service animals, and have caused issues at restaurants searching for food from their owner and other patrons. The possibility of such incidents increases as the use of ESAs increases.
In the GTAA's view, if all regular rules of pet carriage can be followed and it is simply a matter of cost to the passenger for their ESA, then the passenger should be obliged to provide proof they are medically fit to travel without requiring the removal of their ESA from its carrier. In addition, the GTAA asserted that passengers should be required to acknowledge that they are responsible for, and must clean up, any messes as a result of the presence of their ESA on board the flight using mandatory "cleanup kits" to be purchased from the airline.
Unions in particular expressed concerns for the safety and well-being of their members employed in the airline industry, and suggested that TSPs should not be required to accept any ESAs under any conditions.
The Air Canada Component of CUPE highlighted the risk that untrained ESAs relieve themselves on the aircraft, while service dogs have been trained to reduce mess when eliminating waste. ESAs might not have been or cannot be trained to do so, increasing the likelihood of exposure to harmful biological organisms.
The Air Canada Component of CUPE surveyed its members, and noted that 42 percent of respondents had allergies to animals and insects, and 66 percent of respondents were concerned about working with animals onboard flights. They highlighted that members with allergies carry a unique burden in that flight attendants are restricted from taking medications that cause impairment, which is true of many allergy medications.
CUPE also expressed concern about the exposure of their members to animals that might transmit diseases, for example salmonella. As aircraft surfaces may only receive a deep clean/sanitization once a month, this may present health risks to travellers and crew. CUPE provided an example of cross-contamination from an emotional support turtle which might be placed on a tray table, contacting service items which then contact the flight attendant’s hands and other surfaces.
CUPE stated that the potential benefits of travelling with an ESA are outweighed by the need to ensure the overall safety and security of workers and the general traveling public. CUPE noted that their members are not trained for animal control. TSPs would have to provide additional health and safety training and possibly equipment to ensure workers could operate on a flight in a safe manner. CUPE does not specify which equipment might be required.
CUPE highlighted section 124 of the Canada Labour Code which requires that “Every employer shall ensure that the health and safety at work of every person employed by the employer is protected.” CUPE believes it would be a violation of this provision to allow untrained ESA on planes without compliance with the current animal carrier rules. Further, allowing untrained ESAs on airplanes may lead to its members having a “right to refuse dangerous work” request which might in turn result in grounded and delayed planes.
TSPs including union representatives also indicated that, if permitted, the CTA must implement appropriate controls, such as medical documentation from a healthcare practitioner who is treating a patient in relation to a disability, and from a veterinarian or specialized organization that confirms the animal will not bark, growl, act aggressively or need to relieve itself. Other suggestions included behavioral and training requirements, advance notice requirements, limiting the number of animals per flight, establishing maximum weight and size, distancing animals from travellers with allergies, controlling animals within travel carriers and prohibiting pregnant animals.
CUPE submitted that any concern over the safety or behaviour of an ESA should lead to the gate agent or flight attendant preventing the passenger from boarding.
Marine Atlantic also indicated that they should retain the ability to refuse future passage to animals that have created issues during transportation such as relieving themselves inappropriately, acting aggressively, making noise or not being under the control of their owner.
Calm Air submitted that a dog should not run freely, bark, bite or show any kind of aggression. If such signs are displayed, the animal should be removed and banned from future travel.
Those industry representatives that were generally in favour of accommodating ESAs or regulations that would require TSPs to accommodate ESAs emphasized the importance of documentation and suggested a range of conditions, which are addressed in question 7 below.
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Question 1
A number of organizations that represent persons with disabilities – and particularly organizations that represent service dog users – expressed opposition to regulations that would require airlines to accept ESAs. They emphasized that their service animals were required to undergo much more rigorous training, and that untrained ESAs pose a safety threat to themselves, their animals, and fellow travellers.
Some organizations representing the community of persons with disabilities suggested that it would be important for ESAs to have behavioural training comparable to that required of service dogs.
The Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) opposed the introduction of regulations that would require airlines to accept ESAs. PADS noted that, while it did not wish to diminish the benefits that animals have on their human partners, if people with disabilities wish to be in the public space with their ESAs, there is a responsibility to the public and the animals themselves to ensure that they meet public access standards that have been set for certified assistance dogs. ESA’s have no formal training or do not receive training on how to behave appropriately in public places. The only requirement is for a person to provide a doctor’s note stating that they require an animal for their emotional well-being. Neither the doctor, nor the individual in question have qualifications in dog behavior or training to make a determination if the dog is suitable for this type of activity or public access, or if the dog is ill-prepared (either in training or socialization) for high distraction and high stress environments such as airports and airplanes, exposure to crowds, changes in air pressure, altitude, vibrations and noise associated with travel.
Assistance Dogs International, Inc. (ADI) opposed the introduction of regulations that would require airlines to accept ESAs, and noted that although public access and travel can be stressful for any animal, it is guaranteed to be stressful for an animal with no training in public work. ADI also cautioned the CTA against expanding regulatory requirements to include ESAs when other countries and regulatory bodies are trying to reverse such policies, such as the US DOT.
The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, the Canadian Council of the Blind, the Guide Dog Users of Canada, and the National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs filed a joint submission in which they opposed regulations that would require airlines to accept ESAs. They first noted that the majority of service dogs (70 percent) in Canada are guide dogs for the blind. They emphasized the training that guide dogs undergo and noted that rigorous international training standards have been developed to ensure that guide dogs perform their work safely and appropriately while in public.
They made extensive submissions on the training that a guide dog receives, indicating that each guide dog begins its training as a puppy learning basic proper behaviours such as how to behave on leash, respectful etiquette when around people, appropriate times and places for relief, and how to lay or sit quietly in busy public places and not get startled by large crowds. Upon completion of their training, a guide dog must be able to remain calm and handle a variety of situations, including sudden loud noises, the presence of other dogs or animals, working among strangers, negotiating complicated traffic conditions, and riding on many modes of transportation. They are extremely well socialized and are not allowed to be territorial, bark inappropriately or sniff out and lick people. A puppy that does not excel in learning these basic behaviours will likely be cut from the program.
They highlighted the importance of the handler’s capability to responsibly manage the behaviour of a working dog, and illustrated their point by turning to the assessment and training protocols employed by guide dog training facilities. A guide dog handler must be able to responsibly manage the training, care and welfare of their dog at all times before they are allowed to work independently with their dog. Prior to entering a guide dog training program, the prospective handler must undergo a comprehensive assessment, beginning with a medical evaluation of their physical capacity to successfully participate in the training program and manage a dog. It is up to the trained professionals of the training facility to determine if the person could benefit from a guide dog and if they have the maturity, ability, orientation and mobility skills to manage and maintain the guide dog’s training standards. A handler who is unable to manage a dog will either be required to participate in further training or be advised that working with a guide dog is not the best option for them. Most guide dog training facilities provide ongoing assistance throughout the partnership of handler and dog to ensure that they continue to work safely and effectively.
They also questioned whether the medical profession really has the required skills, training and experience to determine what animal would be most suitable, what training is necessary and if the person has the capacity to manage and handle the behaviour of an animal. They finally noted that while many dogs are trained at schools, many are trained privately to the same high standards. One example is the training of PTSD Dogs and their handlers, but would include dogs that are trained to perform tasks to alert for seizures, diabetic lows and highs, and sounds.
The CNIB Foundation distinguished a guide dog from an ESA by the rigorous training that guide dogs are provided. The professionals who train these animals undergo a process of accreditation which ensures a level of understanding of canine behaviour and through a thorough professional apprenticeship program, acquire an in-depth understanding of the disability being mitigated. The CNIB Foundation indicated that it is unaware of any similar credential required when ESAs are put into service.
The CNIB Foundation also mentioned that guide dogs are trained to handle lengthy flights and situations where relieving areas are few and far between. Even then, there is no guarantee that in a stressful situation, a dog will not react adversely. ESAs, without such rigorous screening, training, and certification, increase the chance of mishaps which are inconvenient to the public. Potential risks can take place when untrained animals are travelling, which could potentially put a guide dog handler at risk.
Finally, the CNIB Foundation recommended that TSPs accept dogs who are accredited through an internationally recognized body such as the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) or ADI, or an organization that has an affiliation with these organizations.
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) submitted that the criteria for certification of service animals, psychiatric support animals and ESAs, must be an accountable third-party process, to ensure thorough evaluation that meets standards and allows to distinguish between animals that are and are not able to be safe in public space and do and do not mitigate the limitations resulting from the handler's disabilities. CCD also submitted that animals can be unpredictable, and bad or aggressive behavior cannot be tolerated, especially in a confined space or for a prolonged period of time.
A number of submissions also provided substantial support in favour of introducing requirements for TSPs to accommodate ESAs. These submissions suggested that evidence indicates that ESAs have the potential to encourage movement and social interaction, which contributes to improved mental health and management of mental illness. While these submissions advocated that TSPs should be required to permit a service animal to travel when the person has a disability-related need, they also frequently emphasized the importance of training and documentation requirements standardized by the CTA or vetted by third parties.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CHMA) submitted that it is important that ESAs be recognized as a legitimate accommodation for travellers with episodic disabilities, as animal companionship is associated with reduced feelings of loneliness, irritability and depression. Animal companionship provides emotional support and contributes to improved well-being when mental illness symptoms are active and difficult to manage. The CHMA cited an article found in BMC Psychiatry that would have synthesized the evidence surrounding companion animals for people with episodic disabilities and found that ESAs had the potential to encourage movement and social interaction, which contributed to improved mental health and management of mental illness.
ARCH Disability Law Center (ARCH) submitted that it may be consistent with human rights law to permit an emotional support animal during travel, depending on the animal, the disability-related need, and the circumstances.
While many submissions advocated for regulatory alignment, the CTA received a range of different proposed alignments. For instance, some submissions proposed alignment with international norms or standards – although it is not necessarily clear which – while others advocated for regulatory alignment with US DOT policies, but even here the approaches varied. For example, the CMHA proposed alignment with what was then the current US DOT Enforcement Priorities Regarding Service Animals, which require TSPs to accommodate ESAs. Air North and Air Canada proposed alignment with the US DOT Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), now enacted, which does not require TSPs to accommodate ESAs. Some TSPs that had previously been opposed to alignment with US policies now support regulatory alignment given the recent new direction to not accommodate ESAs.
Finally, submissions from persons who travel with ESAs emphasized the importance to them of being able to travel with their ESAs, for their mental health and for preventing isolation. One went so far as to say that rules in favour of ESAs would be a "life saver". They acknowledged concerns with the transportation of ESAs and the importance of appropriate behaviour, training, and documentation.
The Public Question 1
Many members of the public expressed opposition to requiring the accommodation of ESAs in travel, based on concerns about:
- misbehaviour of ESAs
- fraudulent claims from people wanting to travel with pets, and
- other travellers concerned about allergies to animals.
The degree of opposition varied considerably. Some members of the public went as far as to suggest that no animals should be allowed in aircraft cabins, and that all animals should travel in cargo. The majority, however, acknowledged the legitimacy of trained guide dogs.
Some members of the public expressed a middle ground though, emphasizing the importance of proper certification and training, with some advocating for federal standards including the establishment of a CTA travel certificate program. These requirements were also combined with additional conditions that included limitations on the number, size, and location of animals on board transportation vehicles.
One member of the public noted that trainers and handlers spend a great deal of time establishing and then maintaining their dog’s public behaviour training to minimize the disruption that their dog represents. The public behaviour training for service dogs is arguably the hardest part of their training and is often the reason why a dog does not ultimately graduate or is retired early. For example, this member of the public notes that when a service dog is curled up under a table, it is not for the handler’s benefit, but for the public’s benefit so that the dog is not in the way. As another example, they note that service dogs are very strictly trained not to smell or bite produce at the grocery store, again, not for the dog’s benefit or the handler’s benefit, but for the benefit of the public so that the dog never solicits or steals food from others. This member of the public submits that it is unclear to them why people with mental illness should be granted the assumed benefits of being assisted by an animal with none of the responsibilities towards the public, when that is not the case for people with any other disabilities.
Another member of the public mentioned volunteering with Therapeutic Paws of Canada and the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs. They note that the dogs in these programs have to go through extensive evaluation in order to ensure that they behave appropriately in the presence of other dogs, strange people, equipment such as wheel chairs and walkers, sudden noises, and food. For dogs that interact with children, the evaluation is even more extensive. This member of the public noted that no national standard exists for ESAs or for service dogs, and they assert that if an animal is going to be allowed into public areas, there needs to be a national standard test to ensure that that animal will not be disruptive or dangerous. This member of the public finally noted that members of their therapy dog group have had their animals attacked by a registered service dog in a location where the therapy dogs had been invited to work.
2. Should transportation providers be required only to accept certain species/animal types as ESAs (e.g., dogs, cats, and rabbits)? Or should transportation providers be required to accept all species excluding a few (e.g., insects and snakes)?
Most submissions suggested restricting travel to service dogs.
Some submissions reiterated their opposition to the carriage of any type of ESA or animal, while others emphasized that TSPs should be left to determine their own species restrictions.
Some suggested that common or trained animals such as dogs, cats, and rabbits should be permitted. Others suggested that species of ESAs should be limited to the most commonly used, including dogs, cats and rabbits, as the behavior of these types of species is generally better known and can more easily be accommodated as transportation service providers know what to expect.
Industry Question 2
Some TSPs are of the view that they must retain full discretion as to what species of animal can travel and how they will be accepted given the past record of ESAs on planes and the threat some have posed to airline employees and travellers. Some TSPs propose that carriers should only be required to carry dogs. It would then be at the carrier's discretion to consider other animals on a case-by-case basis. They suggest that providing clear guidance based on a single accepted species creates less uncertainty for industry and travellers alike.
According to Marine Atlantic, exotic species introduce increased risks in terms of varying levels of trainability, potential to carry disease, and the owner's ability to control the animal. Other travellers are also more likely to react to exotic species, with reactions ranging from wanting to pet or take photos of the animal to having significant fear of the animal.
Motor Coach Canada noted that in a motor coach there simply isn’t adequate space to accommodate a wide variety of species, and doing so can put the other travellers at increased safety risk. Coach operators should be allowed to determine what animals they will allow.
The Air Canada Component of CUPE submitted that large animals may encroach on the space of other travellers or even create safety hazards.
CUPE is also of the view that while small animals may seem safer, they may pose unforeseen hazards. For example, if they are separated from their owner, they may gnaw on items. The on-board presence of gnawing animals, such as small rodents, should be banned due to the potential risk to the aircraft if they gnaw at wiring, which could cause electrical issues or even a fire.
CUPE also asserts that the on-board presence of any animal with incapacitating qualities, including but not limited to spontaneous release of hair/particulate (spiders), venom (via bite, sting or spray), or suffocation (pythons) would be inappropriate.
Regarding ESAs' weight, some submit that only ESAs of no more than 20 pounds should be allowed. Turkish Airlines submitted that the ESA's weight (with cage included) should not exceed 8 kg and the cage should not exceed 23cm in height x 30 cm in width x 40 cm in length.
Turkish Airlines also submitted that pregnant animals, breastfeeding mothers, animals under 10 weeks old or that are still breastfeeding cannot be accepted for transportation. Moreover, animals between 10 to 12 weeks old should not be accepted unless approval from a veterinarian is provided.
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Question 2
CCD took the position that no species that are harmful or pose a known safety risk to others should be permitted in public spaces. Canines must be evaluated in their training to mitigate issues of a person's disability, be under the control of the handler and show no aggression. Other species must be held to the same minimum standards.
ADI suggested that allowances can be made for miniature horses already in use for guiding people who are blind; however, these should only be grandfathered in for miniature horses currently in service, or in service as of some previous date.
The Public Question 2
For those members of the public that accept ESAs, most supported accepting dogs as ESAs, while others also supported cats, rabbits, and, in one case, miniature pigs.
3. As an alternative to a species-based approach, would it be preferable to have a criteria-based approach for the acceptance of ESAs?
The criteria for carriers to accept or refuse to transport an animal could include habits of the species, age, size, or the potential allergy trigger that the animal may create. For example, they could refuse to accept animals that gnaw, whose young age is likely to result in unacceptable behaviour, that pose a high allergen risk, or do not fit in a travel carrier or on the floor at a traveller's feet.
Most submissions opposed the use of a criteria-based approach for the acceptance of ESAs, on the basis that such criteria would be ineffective, subjective, complicated, or open to misinterpretation. Some submissions advocated for both species as well as criteria-based restrictions.
Industry Question 3
Some TSPs submitted that the proposal to change acceptance criteria to the habits of the animal or age introduces complexity that would be beyond the ability of the carrier to manage at the time of boarding and may result in service delays or denials for the passenger and animal. They suggest that providing clear guidance based on a single accepted species creates less uncertainty for industry and travellers alike.
Motor Coach Canada opposed a criteria-based approach, as management of this information would cause unnecessary added costs to industry and the determinations would be subjective and open the door to fraudulent information. According to Motor Coach Canada, this would overly complicate the issue.
Further, Marine Atlantic opposed a criteria-based approach, as not all travellers give advance notice of travel, so it would be impossible to create an internal policy that would cover every potential situation that may arise, meaning these types of criteria decisions are likely to be made by front-line staff on a case-by-case basis. There would also a high degree of subjectivity built into a criteria-based approach, creating additional concern. These factors heighten the risk of inconsistent decisions, which would be a disservice to travellers with disabilities as well as TSPs.
IATA did not believe that criteria can be effective in limiting animals that gnaw, pose a high allergen risk, or may exhibit unacceptable behaviour. Such an approach would place an undue burden on airline resources.
VIA Rail noted its commitment to accommodating travellers' needs, and detailed its current practice. VIA Rail does not accept the following ESAs: kittens, puppies, pet rodents (mice, rats, guinea pigs), reptiles, ferrets, hedgehogs, sugar‐gliders, mini‐pigs, mini horses, snakes, birds, insects or spiders. Further, VIA Rail only accepts animals under the following conditions:
- The weight of the animal should not exceed 15kg;
- The animal must be a fully mature animal;
- The animal must be sterilized and have a microchip ID implant;
- The animal must not carry a disease that can be transmitted to humans or contaminate food service;
- Tusked or hooved animals as well as animals falling within certain enumerated classes are not be accepted;
- Service animals that are considered “dangerous breeds” (e.g. pit bulls) are not permitted;
- The animals must be clean and must not carry a strong or foul odor;
- During travel on VIA Rail’s facilities, the animals must be leashed, harnessed, or tethered in some other fashion;
- The animals must be attended to at all times in a station and while on board the train; no animals may be left unattended in any public or private area, in a washroom or in a private cabin;
- The animals must remain on the floor either under the passenger’s seat or at the passenger’s feet; the animals are not allowed to sit in the aisle or on seats;
- In any public area of the train, a service animal must wear a vest or highly visible collar which identifies the animal as a service animal (bilingual identification if desirable – English and French);
- Passengers are required to note that there may not always be sufficient time to walk animals at the station stops for purposes of relieving; and
- Passengers must carry on their person and have accessible at all times throughout the trip, the vaccination records of the animal.
VIA Rail proposed that the new regulations provide for the acceptance of dogs that are ESAs and that the TSP provide a free seat beside the passenger to free up space for these dogs.
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Question 3
Of those community submissions that supported introducing requirements for TSPs to accommodate ESAs, only CCD recommended that a criteria-based approach be used.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) emphasized the importance of considerations being given to persons with episodic disabilities that could be mitigated by ESAs, given the apparent requirement of US DOT policies that only require the accommodation of persons with chronic disabilities. CMHA also recommended that a criteria-based approach for determining acceptance of ESAs may more effectively standardize carrier protocols and may reduce the possibility of barriers to access for people with episodic disabilities who travel or wish to travel with ESAs.
The joint submission of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, the Canadian Council of the Blind, the Guide Dog Users of Canada and the National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs expressed concern that any animal as a pet may carry viruses that can harm passengers' service dogs. They note that guide and service dogs are well looked after and have regular health checks and immunizations. ESAs may not have this high degree of health care and that can potentially harm a passenger, including a passenger with a disability and their service dog. Further, passengers should have the right to know what kind of animals are being allowed on board as pets in crates.
Further, according to the joint submission, the CTA regulations should require all areas of the transportation network to publish mandatory annual reporting of incidents involving the carriage of pets. This would assist to mitigate the harm to passengers, crew, service dogs, and would permit risk assessment if an animal was let out of their crate either on purpose or accidently.
CCD expressed concerns respecting moving to a model of selection for carriage that leaves the determination to front-line employees. Certification is a process whereby the animal is evaluated by an expert to a standard, to which the animal is trained. Certification tends to be documented and those documents can be reviewed by front-line employees to ensure that the animal has been evaluated to be in a public space. The process of certification takes the liability of making the decision out of the hands of the carrier and places that liability, where it should be, in the hands of experts that do the evaluation. Certification makes more sense in respect of protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and the safety of all, in a public space and using a transportation system intended to be used by the travelling public.
The Public Question 3
Some members of the public expressed a middle ground, emphasizing the importance of proper certification and training, with some advocating for federal standards, including the establishment of a CTA travel certificate program. These requirements were also combined with additional conditions that included limitations on the number, size, and location of animals on board transportation vehicles.
Some members of the public suggested that any definition should include the requirement for the handler to be a person with a disability and for the animal to be specifically trained to be in public spaces and to mitigate, in some way, the limitations caused by the handler's disability. This would not limit the handler from self-training their animal, but suggests that the handler, even when self-training their ESA, is required to have their ESA evaluated and certified by a third party.
One member of the public submitted that they have a dog that is currently an ESA who is too young to be a certified service dog (under 18 months of age). They have been training their dog for months to prepare the dog for the service dog testing and hired professional trainers. In the meantime, their dog is essential to their well-being and peace of mind. They fly frequently for medical treatment and find it essential that their dog be able to accompany them. There have been no complaints regarding the dog's behaviour because they have invested the time and money to ensure the dog's behaviour is acceptable in public, especially in a space such as an airplane. This member of the public submits that an outright ban on ESAs would be problematic for people like themselves that depend on ESAs for day to day functioning and are not yet able to have their animal fully certified as a service animal. Their dog is still learning his service tasks, but, in the meantime, it would be important that the dog be exposed to environments such as a plane as the dog will be expected to perform tasks should the need arise in the future.
4. Should all transportation providers be required to accept the same types of ESAs or should there be differences based on the mode of transportation (air, rail, marine, or bus)? If you think there should be differences based on mode, what differences?
Of the submissions that answered this question, most submissions stated that there should be no differences based on modes.
Some industry representatives advocated for tailored requirements by mode and size, for example Calm Air. WestJet advocated that the unique constraints and conditions for each mode needs to be considered and a "one size fits all" approach is neither practical nor feasible.
Of the submissions from the public, some advocated for tailored requirements by mode and size, but most suggested that the same requirements should apply across modes.
5. Should the same requirements for ESAs apply to large and small transportation providers? Should consideration be given to the size or seating capacity of aircraft, rail car, bus, or ferry?
Industry Question 5
Some industry representatives – particularly smaller air TSPs – seemed more open to the potential for the acceptance of ESAs, while also supporting a range of conditions for their carriage. They submitted that most decisions with respect to particular ESA travel conditions should be left to the discretion of the carrier. They reiterated that carriers should be able to define what ESA’s are acceptable based on their aircraft, space and operations, and that they should not be required to accept all species, keeping passenger comfort and safety in mind.
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Question 5
The joint submission of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, the Canadian Council of the Blind, the Guide Dog Users of Canada and the National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs reiterated their opposition to the carriage of any type of ESA or animal.
CNIB indicated that consistency is important and, as such, it did not recommend applying different standards to different modes of travel.
CCD reiterated that all carriers and modes of transportation should comply with the human rights accessibility principles and that protection of the rights of persons with disabilities should override the size of the carrier's equipment. CCD recognized that some smaller carriers have less resources; however, this would be reflected in the undue hardship test.
The Public Question 5
Of the submissions from the public, some advocated for tailored requirements by mode and size, but most suggested that the same requirements should apply to large and small carriers across modes.
6. In the United States, enforcement action is not taken if an airline refuses to transport more than three service animals for one traveler, including ESAs. In Canada, should there be a limit on the number of service dogs and/or ESAs that persons with disabilities can travel with on-board? If so, what limit?
Virtually all submissions argued that travellers should be limited to one animal.
Industry Question 6
Motor Coach Canada argued that this should be left to the carrier to determine, depending on how many requests have been received, how many travellers will be sharing the interior of the vehicle, the types of animals being transported and any requests to accommodate severe allergies.
Turkish Airlines submitted that if the same passenger has several animals, only animals of the same species and that are used to being together should be transported in the same cage, providing that they do not exceed the weight of 8 kgs.
Marine Atlantic submitted that the passenger must be able to properly care for and control their ESA during travel and the difficulty of this is increased significantly if it is extended to multiple animals. Animals are exposed to a wide variety of sights, smells, sounds and activities to which they are often unaccustomed and may require additional attention from the passenger. The impact that sea conditions will have on both the animal and the passenger must also be considered because adverse weather conditions can cause motion sickness which can lessen a person’s ability to care for and control an animal, as well as cause the animal to have higher than usual needs. If the passenger is unable to deal with their animal due to sickness, crew members may be left to handle the situation. Multiple animals would amplify these concerns.
Marine Atlantic also had concerns about multiple animals per person in cases of emergency where passengers may be required to gather at muster stations or be evacuated from a terminal or vessel. During emergencies, safety of human life is of paramount concern. Multiple animals, which may or may not be well controlled, could significantly hamper efforts of crew in completing their emergency duties.
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Question 6
Both the CNIB Foundation and CCD addressed this question in the context of service dogs or animals and not ESAs. The CNIB Foundation recommended that any regulatory framework only permit one service dog per passenger as a person with a disability would not require multiple service animals in transit. Multiple animals accompanying a traveler would introduce unnecessary inconveniences for other passengers and service providers. Furthermore, managing multiple animals within a terminal or on a bus, plane, or train is likely to create unavoidable conflicts for all passengers.
On the other hand, CCD submitted that some animals are limited in the number of tasks for which they can be trained and when the requirements of the individual with disabilities goes beyond the ability of one animal, other animals are necessary to meet the needs of the handler. In such cases, more than one animal is required and additional animals must be certified for the tasks being required of each animal.
CCD also recognized that the norm is one such animal for a handler and more than one animal for one handler is the exception, but that there are circumstances where persons with disabilities require two and on very rare occasions a third animal. These requirements are based on the individual's medical requirements and the limitations of the animals involved. CCD's position is that in such cases, the medical professionals and service dog trainers provide ample documentation and individual certification for each animal involved. It should not be the place of the service provider to put limits on valid accommodations required short of legally recognized undue hardship.
7. What documentation, if any, should transportation providers be able to request with respect to travel with ESAs with the aim of mitigating health, safety, or fraud concerns?
Under the ATPDR, transportation providers can require a person with a disability travelling with a service dog to provide documentation issued by an organization or person specializing in service dog training that identifies the person with the disability and attests that the service dog has been individually trained by a specialized organization or person to perform a task to assist that traveller with a need related to their disability.
What documentation, if any, should transportation providers be able to request with respect to travel with ESAs with the aim of mitigating health, safety, or fraud concerns? For instance:
- that the traveller requires the animal to travel, for medical reasons, as indicated by a health care practitioner who is treating the traveller and confirms that the traveller has a disability and needs the animal to travel for disability-related reasons;
- that the animal will not need to relieve itself during transportation, and will not bark, growl, or act aggressively.
Almost all submissions supported the importance of proper documentation. Many suggested that documentation requirements should include:
- behavioural training of animals,
- establishing the need for a passenger to travel with an ESA from an accredited organization, and
- medical certification from an animal care practitioner – such as a vet – with respect to the health of the animal, including up-to-date vaccinations.
Industry Question 7
To the extent that carriage of ESAs may be regulated, many industry representatives submitted that documentation should be required from a healthcare practitioner who is treating a patient in relation to disability, and from a veterinarian or specialized organization that confirms that the animal will behave appropriately and will not bark, growl, act aggressively or need to relieve itself.
Many commented on fake certifications and commented that the CTA should establish requirements to certify ESAs as there are currently means to obtain a "license" for a small fee, making any pet an ESA. Many were concerned with this apparent fraud and noted that for a small fee, and without any legitimate treatment for a disability, a person can obtain a certificate to assert that they need to have an ESA for their alleged disability. The purported health professional does not meet with the individual, and the health professional does not make an independent and reliable determination of the person’s disability or the need for an ESA. Notably, some have identified that some purported mental health professionals have issued hundreds of letters and note that a relatively small number of purported mental health professionals have issued a disproportionate number of ESA letters.
Some TSPs submitted that letters should not come from family doctors but from a recognized mental health professional stating the requirement for the animal. These TSPs also noted that accredited organizations all issue identification cards which include a photograph of both the dog and the person with a disability.
Marine Atlantic also submitted that online sources allow for the purchase of documentation and harnesses and other apparel marked with service or working animal designations. These fraudulent sites further confuse the travelling public and present significant issues for Marine Atlantic in regard to both service dogs and ESAs. Marine Atlantic submitted that these issues are often emotionally volatile for passengers; and their personnel report regularly that any questions about documentation or requirements for travel are met with immediately high levels of anger and/or upset from passengers. Other passengers develop unfounded fears of trained service animals because of their experiences with ESAs, and a negative stigma develops regarding service animals that is unjustifiably applied to trained service animals. Marine Atlantic also submitted that the TSP should be able to hold the passenger accountable for the behavior of their animal, including levying some extra costs, such as cleaning or damage, if the animal behaves inappropriately.
Air Canada strongly supported the US DOT’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to impose a Government-issued form. Air Canada suggested that the use of this form would dissuade passengers from purchasing fraudulent letters online, as falsifying a government form comes with penalties. However, Air Canada noted that in order for this requirement to have the necessary effect, TSPs must be allowed to refuse carriage in the event that passengers fail to provide the government form.
IATA and Marine Atlantic also suggested that the CTA should require passengers to produce documentation issued by the CTA that sets forth the condition that the animal is trained to address, the training the animal has received to perform a service function, and certification that the animal can handle itself properly while on an aircraft. The documentation should clearly state that any false statements are punishable under federal law. These TSPs have significant concerns that even strict documentation requirements will not prevent those who are determined to bring their pets on board the aircraft.
According to Marine Atlantic, the CTA should designate and authorize an appropriate group to review and approve ESAs for travel. This would allow passengers to provide their personal medical information to a single agency instead of being required to provide this information to multiple TSPs. An accredited agency would have more expertise in these areas than organizations whose primary business is providing transportation services and therefore be better positioned to verify the documentation provided and ensure a consistent approach to verification and acceptance of both disability-related needs and animals. Animals’ health records could be vetted to ensure they pose no risk to other animals or humans.
Once requirements have been satisfied, Marine Atlantic submitted that this third party would issue a type of standard license, much like a driver’s license, that the passenger would present to the transportation service provider when booking their travel. Less advance notice would be required as the license would eliminate the need for passengers to send in other documentation to be vetted. This type of system would also serve to protect both passengers with real needs and transportation service providers from the fraudulent entities looking to profit from the current confusion. It would provide persons with disabilities a clear path to follow and best assist transportation providers in making services as barrier free as possible.
Via Rail detailed its existing procedures relating to documentation, and suggested that regulatory requirements should reflect this procedure. Passengers wishing to travel with a therapy animal are required to provide VIA Rail with the following information:
- A note from a licensed medical doctor or licensed mental health professional that prescribes the assistance of an animal being for the passenger and that such assistance is required in order for the passenger to travel; and
- Agreement in writing from the passenger that the passenger shall, at all times,
- Maintain control of the animal being; and
- Keep the animal being on a leash, harness or tether, unless this would interfere with the safe and effective performance of the animal being’s work or tasks, in which case the animal being must be otherwise controlled; and
- A health certificate for therapy animals beings signed by a veterinarian, at the passenger’s cost. This certificate will attest that the animal being is fit for travel. It would be valid for a period of one year. This policy will ensure the health and safety of all persons and other animals beings travelling on board (ex. service dogs, guide dogs and pets).
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Question 7
PADS submitted that as a result of the number of fraudulent and ill-behaved dogs in public, frustrations and negative public opinion have now been leveled at legitimate, highly trained assistance dog teams.
CMHA recognized that accommodation of ESAs may conflict with other travellers’ well-being and access to transportation such that there is a need for protocols to ensure that ESAs are under effective control and to reduce the risk of harm or threat to travellers and staff. CMHA National urged the CTA to ensure that any requested documentation provided by mental health practitioners, veterinary clinics and other relevant practitioners aligns with the criteria used by carriers to determine ESA eligibility.
CMHA gave the example of the United States, where to be eligible to travel on public transport with an ESA, at the time of the consultations, a person had to: 1) have chronic mental health issues that limit their ability to perform activities of daily living; and 2) have a mental health provider determine that their symptoms and disability are ameliorated in the presence of an ESA. While there was no legal requirement for other forms of documentation, best practice would be for a letter for the ESA to be provided by a mental health practitioner who has a therapeutic relationship with the client and who recognizes that incorporation of an ESA fits the person’s care and recovery plan.
CNIB noted that while healthcare professionals such as mental health workers or psychiatrists may be able to speak to the possible benefits a person might derive from an ESA, they have no qualifications to ensure that an ESA acquired by a person with a disability has been properly trained and that the person has received instruction on how to work with their animal.
CCD erroneously asserted that the current CTA regulations require the handler of an emotional support animal to provide verification from their mental health practitioner that the handler does have a mental health diagnosis and the animal is required for the handler to travel. CCD took the position that making such a requirement is a violation of the individual's protected rights, both under human rights and the individual's privacy rights.
According to CCD, it is best to let those who are skilled in evaluating the ability of the animal with the handler make the determination of the animal being a service animal, psychiatric support animals or ESA and to certify their findings, in the form of an identification card.
CCD submitted that, when animals are certified to be a service animal, psychiatric support animal or ESA, the certification ID for the handler and the animal is all that a carrier should require to verify that the handler is a person with a disability and the animal has been evaluated and certified to be a service animal, psychiatric support animal or ESA. A self-declaration that the animal will not, bark, growl, act aggressively or need to relieve itself is meaningless as people will sign that document whether it’s true or not. The honour system has not worked, and this has created danger for the general public and for people with other disabilities.
ARCH submitted that any requests for documentation must be made according to existing human rights law principles. For example, TSPs cannot demand documentation that discloses a person’s diagnosis or the specific disability the person has. Requests for documentation must be limited to the nature of the person’s disability related needs and the service the animal is providing in relation to those needs. Once a person with a disability provides this documentation, the transportation provider must accept it in good faith and should not question its validity or demand additional, unnecessary documentation.
ARCH also submitted that multiple different requests for different documentation by different TSPs create barriers for persons with disabilities. To meet these demands, persons with disabilities have to navigate multiple, varying processes, secure and provide several kinds of documents, and may have to visit multiple medical professionals with different qualifications to do so. The CTA can address this barrier by standardizing the documentation that transportation providers request and the process for doing so. For example, the CTA could develop a standard form to be used by all TSPs that requests only the type of information allowable by human rights law.
The Public Question 7
Some people submitted that medical documentation should absolutely be required, and that it must be specific, current, detailed and provided by a licensed healthcare professional who would indicate that they are treating the person, and not "simply rubber stamping a request".
8. How much notice would be appropriate with regard to ESAs?
The ATPDR allow transportation providers to require that persons with disabilities provide 48 hours' advance notice prior to departure for most services, including travelling with service dogs. In some situations, they may request up to 96 hours' notice to verify that documentation is in order and authorize an animal for travel. However, they must still make reasonable efforts to provide the service, even if notice is not given. How much notice would be appropriate with regard to ESAs?
Responses here varied widely, with 48, 72, and 96 hours being the most common suggestions. Some suggested that the timelines should be the same as for service dogs.
The Community of Persons with DisabilitiesQuestion 8
CCD argued that any advance notice requirement is a violation of the right of a person with a disability to travel, as the test is not reasonableness, but undue hardship. Furthermore, persons with disabilities, like other travellers, sometimes must travel without notice. Nonetheless, persons with disabilities should identify the accommodation need at the time of making reservations.
The Public Question 8
One submission from a member of the public indicated that they felt that 7 days' advance notice should be required.
9. Should transportation providers be permitted to require that ESAs be tethered, leashed, harnessed, and/or enclosed within a travel carrier? Would any of these requirements prevent travellers from using ESAs therapeutically?
Almost all submissions agreed that keeping the animal under control using a leash, for instance, should be required. Submissions were divided on the issue of requiring travellers to keep their ESAs in a travel carrier. Many submissions did not explicitly speak to this issue, but of those that did, some industry representatives and members of the public suggested that this should be required, while some members of the community of persons with disabilities, including one person who travels with an ESA, emphasized the importance of not being required to keep it in a carrier.
Industry Question 9
Air Canada submitted that ESAs that are lap-held run the risk of becoming projectiles in the event of turbulence or a bumpy or difficult landing. To Air Canada, this is an unacceptable risk to all other travellers onboard, and to cabin crew.
CUPE proposed that travellers with animal carriers should be assigned to designated seating areas to ensure that the presence of the animal carrier presents the least possible threat to an evacuation. According to CUPE, these policies and practices are adequate for the transportation of ESA as well. On planes, ESAs should comply with the rules for animal carriers.
GTAA supported a requirement that ESAs be crated within terminals, until such time as the animal is trained or licensed appropriately, to mitigate bites, lunging or bumping into workers, passengers and others (which may cause people to lose balance and fall), altercations with other animals including service animals, and running freely. Incidents such as these are likely to result in claims or lawsuits against airport operators and their partners.
GTAA also submitted that, if a person who uses a guide or service dog has reason to believe the wellbeing of their dog is in danger by a pet in a crate, they must have the right to be heard when asking that the safety of their dog is paramount over a pet. Further, crews must have the authority to intervene and make seat changes or have a pet removed if required.
Marine Atlantic submitted that ESAs should be leashed and muzzled or crated from the vehicle deck to the cabin, and at all times on terminal properties. Marine Atlantic indicated that at the time of the consultation, travellers with ESAs are required to book cabin accommodations on the vessel, for which they pay regular price, as ESAs are not permitted in general passenger areas onboard. The animal must remain in the cabin during the voyage but may make use of the relieving area on a nearby exterior deck. This is a departure from their pet policy, as pets are currently not permitted in terminals or in passenger areas onboard vessels. Marine Atlantic noted that the needs of customers with allergies and with fears of animals must be balanced with the needs of passengers travelling with ESAs.
VIA Rail submitted that if the CTA contemplates expanding the regulations to include all ESAs, the ESA must remain in a cage or at the feet of the passenger or on their lap, with no additional free seat. This is based on legal framework that the service provider must ensure the safety and well‐being of all animals. Subjecting a trained service animal to the behavior of an untrained animal puts in jeopardy the safety and well being of all animals on board: service dogs, ESAs and other species. All other ESAs should be prohibited, unless the transportation provider accepts to develop a formal policy made available to the public. Finally, there should be a statutory review mechanism of any decision (to accept or refuse) by the passenger or the service provider.
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Question 9
The CNIB Foundation submitted that provided that a dog remains under the handler’s control, only requiring a dog to be leashed would be reasonable. Given the cramped quarters on buses or airplanes, a harness will crowd the handler, the dog, and any neighbouring passengers. If ESA pet dogs are to be permitted outside of carriers, there should be a requirement that they be muzzled.
According to ADI, ESAs should only be in a pet carrier and that dogs or cats that can travel in pet carriers be the only animals accepted. Carriers minimize the chance of injuring personnel or passengers; although, the animals themselves, and likely their owners, will still be subject to extreme stress.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CHMA) submitted that ESAs should require to be leashed, but not to be in a carrier so as to not prevent the therapy the ESA providers to the travellers.
One person who travels with an ESA emphasized the importance of not being required to keep it in a carrier.
The Public Question 9
Virtually all submissions agreed that keeping the animal under control using a leash, for instance, should be required. Some members of the public suggested that keeping ESAs in a travel carrier should be required.
A member of the public suggested that unless the dog has been legitimately certified as trained for public access, it should not be out of a carrier in a contained space with staff and passengers. This member of the public is aware that this would rule out certain sizes of animals as ESAs for people who wish to travel; however, they are of the view that when a person has a disability, they make decisions for themselves about their needs and options to meet those needs. This member of the public noted that if having an ESA is a need, then they need to choose an ESA that will not create undue risks to TSP personnel and other passengers, and as such the ESA must be contained. This member of the public maintained that the outcome of having unrestrained ESA pet dogs on aircraft has already been seen, and that is not a reasonable accommodation.
This member of the public also suggested that if petting is needed, one could slip one’s hand into the carrier. This may reduce the full effectiveness of having the animal, however persons with disabilities usually have multiple coping skills or medication for any given situation. It would not be reasonable to rely solely on animals, as animals can make mistakes, miss cues, fall ill, any number of things can happen. Animals for assistance can only be used in reasonable, safe, and ethical ways for the animals and the other individuals around. Persons with disabilities should accept the limitations that are inherent with the animal they chose to utilize.
10. Apart from the issue of ESAs, should transportation providers be obligated to accept service animals other than service dogs? If so, should any restrictions apply?
Most submissions suggested restricting service animals to service dogs.
Industry Question 10
Some industry representatives suggested that they could accommodate a variety of species of mammals, as long as these are properly trained and certified.
Marine Atlantic indicated that it has accepted service animals other than dogs in the past, including a pot-bellied pig, miniature horse and pygmy goat. These requests have been very infrequent and there have been no issues in accommodating the ones received to date. Service animals other than dogs do not present a large concern for Marine Atlantic, given that they follow current processes in terms of being animals capable of being appropriately trained, receiving that training and having the required documentation.
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Question 10
CCD suggested that other animals besides dogs could be helpful in mitigating disability-related concerns, as dogs are not for everybody. CCD submitted that the entire transportation system, all carriers and all modes, must be mandated to carry all service animals and psychiatric support animals, if the handler can provide proof of the training through certification, short of undue hardship.
ARCH submitted that it is not necessary to limit service animals to a particular species or set of criteria. Rather, in keeping with a human rights law approach, the ATPDR should require all transportation providers to permit a service animal to travel when the person has a disability-related need, the service animal is providing a service in relation to that need, and the service animal and handler have been trained.
APPENDIX: List of Written Submissions in Phase II of the Consultation on the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR)
Consultation Submissions from industry representatives Appendix
- Air Canada
- Air Canada Component of CUPE
- Airlines for America
- Air North
- Calm Air
- Canadian Airport Council
- Canadian Union of Public Employees
- Greater Toronto Airports Authority
- Greyhound Canada
- Manitoba Aviation Council
- Marine Atlantic
- Motor Coach Canada
- National Airlines Council of Canada
- Northern Air Transport Association
- Réseau québécois des aéroports
- The Travel Group
- Turkish Airlines
- Unifor National Rail Industry Council
- Via Rail
The Community of Persons with Disabilities Appendix
- Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
- Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, the Canadian Council of the Blind, the Guide Dog Users of Canada, and the National Coalition of People who use Guide and Service Dogs
- ARCH Disability Law Centre
- Assistance Dogs International
- Barrier Free Canada
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- CNIB Foundation
- Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec
- Council of Canadians with Disabilities
- National Pensioners Federation
- Pacific Assistance Dogs
- People First of Canada
- Regroupement des activistes pour l'inclusion au Québec
- The Canadian Foundation for Animal-Assisted Support Services
- Pacific Assistance Dogs
The Public Appendix
- Maureen Christian
- Harley Alway
- Kathy Atkins
- Anita Bowes
- Leo Buonassisi
- Kathleen Burbridge
- Deanna Cameron
- Cascadia Management
- Lionel et Lucille Chambers
- Linda Chase
- Marilyn Clark
- J. Clermont
- Patty Conway
- Anne Coupland
- W. Dale
- Lynne et Dexter Darrell
- Barbara Eifler
- N. Elander
- Kathy Flood
- Gloria Frizzell
- Chantale Gagnon
- Janet Glazebrook
- P. D. Goerndt
- Anthony Gomes
- Leslie Hemphill
- Karen Hills
- Cindy Hite
- Michael Judd
- Craig Kerstens
- Debra Komar
- L. Lavigne
- Michelle Libling
- LN. Marshall
- Dorothy McNaughton
- Ivan Menendez
- Lori Moren
- A. Moss
- David Motion
- D. Muth
- Cindy Neil
- Blandine Norman
- Ellen Oday
- E. Portman
- L. Pottie
- Hart Price
- Amber Pye
- Nellie Que
- John Rae
- D. Schatz
- Tracey Schonfeld
- Pat Skinner
- Natalie Speckmaier
- Ansa Steenkamp
- J. Steenkamp
- J. Steenkamp
- J. Stevens
- Veryl Tipliski
- Dean Travers
- Diane Trondson
- Randy Tucker
- M. Twitchell
- Amanda Walton
- Harriet Warner
- D. Warren
- Ken Williamson