Pet Travel: Air Canada clarifies policy on emotional support and psychiatric service animals

Air CanadaAir Canada has issued a clarification on their definition of emotional support (ESA) and psychiatric service animals. This is the first airline to address this classification of animal. Here is their policy:

Dogs as emotional support or psychiatric service animals
If you wish to travel with a dog* as an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you will need to ensure that your animal is harnessed. More than 48 hours prior to departure, you must also provide supporting documentation in the form of an original letter on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional (e.g. a psychologist, psychiatrist or licensed clinical social worker), dated within one year of your departure date.

The letter must confirm that:

    • You have a mental or emotional disability recognized by the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
    • You need your dog for emotional or psychiatric support during travel and/or at destination
    • The person who prepared the document is a licensed mental health professional

You are currently under the care of the licensed mental health professional who prepared the document

The letter must also provide information on the mental health professional?s license (i.e. type of licence, date issued, and issuing authority).
*NOTE: Air Canada does not accept animals other than dogs as emotional support or psychiatric service animals. ESAs are accepted only on flights to or from the United States or?flights with an Air-Canada operated flight through a US-based airline.

More information on Air Canada pet policies.


Pet Travel: Air Canada clarifies policy on emotional support and psychiatric service animals — 62 Comments

  1. Right here is the right site for anybody who wishes to understand this topic.
    You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to?HaHa).
    You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which
    has been written about for many years. Great stuff, just wonderful!

  2. I traveled from Winnipeg to Minneapolis with a kid behind me who kept pummelling my seat and kicking it and I had just had back surgery mother did nothing to stop him give me dogs anytime

  3. Thank you for sharing information about airlines. If you need services of Virgin America Airlines then call our toll-free Virgin America Phone Number +1-800-525-9861.

  4. Sandi – it is not your ESA that causes problems for the airlines. Sadly, others have taken advantage of the protections that the Air Carrier Access Act offers. When the TSA issues it?s ruling, we hope that those like yourself will not be affected.

  5. I have severe anxiety and panic and travel with my dog on my lap. It?s obvious you have no idea the way anxiety affects one?s life. I wish it on no one. I resent those that abuse it because it makes it difficult for those of us that suffer. The airlines do not make it easy. My dog lays on my lap under a blanket, doesn?t bark, eat, drink or go to the bathroom. Most passengers don?t even realize she?s there. As far as others, many people ask to sit near her. Every time we take off, land or have turbulence I hold on to her with my head down shaking. Without her, I don?t see my grandchildren. Become educated before judging those of us that suffer. It can happen to you or someone you love at any time or age. Try this..close your eyes and imagine yourself tied down on a railroad track as a train is approaching and you can?t get up. That?s how a panic attack feels and that?s how I feel as a plane takes off and lands. And it?s a hell of a lot better than getting addicted to drugs!

  6. Rena – you must provide documentation to the airlines at least 48 hours in advance. Many of them will verify your documentation. This is their rules. Otherwise, everyone would travel with their pet in the cabin no matter whether they had a need to or not. This would affect people like you who really need your pet.

  7. i have anxiety and need my dog as emotional support. why must i prove mental illness or be under the care of a psychiatrist

  8. Joe, when you have survived multiple wars and have massive PTSD, THEN you get the right to say no one but blind need a dog. My dog is the only thing that prevents me from having massive PTSD attacks for HOURS at a time, which btw are so intense they can give me a heart attack from it.
    I totally get that a great deal of people are abusing the system, but there ARE some of us that actually need our dog for ACTUAL ESA needs. Not everyone is a scammer!

  9. The rules are getting stricter for US-based airlines for ESAs. You are correct that not all people need them, but there are those that really do. The issue is training (or lack thereof). All pet owners with emotional disabilities should make sure their pets are trained to behave and are socialized before flying.

  10. Emotional support dogs… ya right scam to fly free dogs….what about folks on the plane who are allergenic or terrified of dogs?
    What if the dog start to howl or get sick? Basically selfish people
    Blind, ok you need the dog. Otherwise the dog goes via air freight…

  11. Debbie – we have not heard of a legitimate ID card related to ESAs. The reason for this is because there is no central organization that registers these pets. Commercial airlines will ask for a professional physician’s note.

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