TAMPA (FOX 13) - A committee under the scope of the U.S. Department of Transportation is meeting this week to discuss ways to potentially crackdown on the ever-expanding list of animals allowed to fly with passengers for free.
The committee is looking to possibly redefine what constitutes an animal reasonably able to be a service or emotional support animal. It will also look at the current requirements for documentation for such animals and decide if the process needs to require more proof.
Airlines say it’s no secret that people are taking advantage of vague rules and websites that allow anyone to answer a few questions online and walk away with a doctor’s note for a service or support animal. Animals flying in cabins are also becoming more exotic, with recent instances of pigs, turkeys and even monkeys spotted on flights.
Paige Bauer flies with her dog Flo to aide her with a medical condition that can lead to blackouts.
“She alerts others and myself if there's a medical emergency, if there's an episode where I kind of zone out into space, she can snap me out of it,” said Bauer.
Bauer says knowing that some people take advantage of the system and receive false diagnoses to bring service animals on board upsets her. She believes the federal government and airlines should make it harder to abuse the rules in place.
“The fact that these kind of services exist has very negatively impacted my ability to take her places. It makes it much... harder for the people that really need it,” said Bauer.
The DOT committee could make a decision on a compromise by Friday, but changes may not take place for months or even years.