Emotional support animals (ESA) are becoming more common worldwide as our understanding of the benefits they can have on our mental health continues to grow.
Until recently, emotional support animals were legally allowed to accompany people on planes and in accommodations that might usually prohibit animals. However, there have been some significant changes in the past two years. Here are four tips to make traveling with your emotional support animals easier.
1. Get Registered
There’s no use turning up to an airport with an animal and trying to board a flight without the correct documentation. Pets are not permitted on practically all international and national carriers, regardless of your attachment to them.
If you want to have any chance of getting on the flight, you’d do well to register your animal as an emotional support animal in your home state. So, for example, people living in New York City can go to emotional support animal registration New York and register their animal.
From that point, it’s essential to always travel with your ESA paperwork. Otherwise, air carriers may deny you the kinds of benefits that your emotional support animal provides you. You may also need to carry proof of vaccinations and other medical records if traveling to a foreign country.
2. Do Your Research
Before making any bookings, research whether ESAs are allowed on your chosen airline and the situation at your destination.
As of January 11, 2021, airlines were no longer legally required to accept ESAs within the United States, and further afield, the situation is mixed.
Numerous international carriers followed suit, and if you rely on having your animal with you when you’re traveling, you should find out where you stand before booking anything.
3. Health Check Up
Many airlines require you to show proof that your ESA is healthy enough to make the journey, and even if they don’t, it’s good animal ownership to ensure they are fit and healthy before getting on the flight.
Travel of any kind can be stressful for an animal, but being trapped in a metal tube thousands of meters in the sky for hours is entirely different.
Before leaving home, it’s always worth visiting your local vet and having them give your ESA a quick once over and get the certificate it requires. Dragging an unhealthy animal with you when you travel will not only dampen your own experience, it can be borderline cruelty for the animal.
4. Pre-Flight Checks
You can do several things just before your flight to try and ensure your ESA has the best possible experience. Take them for a long walk beforehand but resist the urge to feed them too much because, well, you can probably guess.
Also, think about packing a small specific bag for your ESA containing its favorite toy, a few treats, bedding they’re comfortable with, grooming supplies, waste bags, etc. These things won’t add much weight to your baggage and can make a difference when you need them.
Traveling with your ESA has become much harder over the last few years. In many ways, those changes were coming after such a dramatic rise in unauthorized ESAs.
Yet while it may be more complicated, all is not lost. With the proper preparations, there’s no reason you can’t still travel with your ESA and enjoy that emotional bond that is so important to many.