Do you use a therapy dog and want to travel? If you’re not sure what the rules and regulations are of travelling with your therapy pup (or other therapy animals) we’ve got all the information that you need.
Therapy dogs can be used for a multitude of reasons, both providing physical and mental support to their owners. They are there to offer affection, companionship, and assistance to those that need it. There are many reasons why you may choose to fly with your therapy dog, they can, for example, help keep you calm and comfortable throughout the journey or provide specialised support if you’re physically disabled.
Firstly, to be able to fly with your therapy dog, you must register them. In the UK, there is a distinction between therapy and assistance dogs. Assistance dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that help improve the quality of life of a disabled person. In contrast, therapy dog is usually a term used to describe a dog that benefits people in a therapeutic way and can encompass a wide range of activities. In the UK, you can register your dog at Pets as Therapy, which will help when you want to fly with your therapy dog.
Airlines will allow you to travel with an assistance dog free of charge but therapy dogs are a bit of a grey area and will depend on the airline that you’re travelling with, destination, and how long your flight is. In the US, for example, registered emotional support animals are allowed to travel free of charge. However, British Airways views emotional support animals as domestic pets and they would therefore not be allowed to travel in the cabin with you and you would need to pay.
If you want to fly with a therapy dog that’s not registered as providing you with assistance for a disability, it’s best to contact the travel provider directly before you make any booking. Even if their website states they’re unable to offer cabin space for emotional support dogs, they may be able to provide you with an alternative solution that matches your needs and, of course, there are some carriers that are happy to accept therapy dogs.
What do different airlines say about emotional support animals?
For airlines flying from the UK, the following three airlines allow emotional support animals:
- American Airlines – when flying with this airline you will be required to provide a letter from a medical professional.
- Air France – If you’re flying with Air France you will need to inform them of your emotional support animal no later than 48 hours prior to the flight. You will also need to need a medical certificate that is less than a year old. This certificate will need to have been provided by a mental health specialist who can testify that you receive regular check-ups and need your dog with you at all times.
- Flybe– This airline will only allow dogs but the dog must have received training from an organisation affiliated with the IGDF (International Guide Dog Federation) or ADI (Assistance Dogs International).
Emirates and Swiss Air are the only airlines that will allow emotional support animals on flights from the UK to the USA.
Who can I speak to further about a therapy dog?
For help with this issue speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free chat. We are also able to provide you with an assessment and a letter that will outline your condition and will confirm that the dog is an emotional support animal. Assessments will last an hour and the letter you will receive will be a 1 page report that recommends adjustments which should be considered as a result of having an emotional support animal.