Flying with a Therapy Dog

flying-with-service-therapy-dogs 

A therapy dog is trained to provide comfort and affection to people. Therapy dogs are widely used at hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, hospices, schools and even disaster areas. People who have learning disabilities also use therapy dogs as a means of building their self confidence for learning.

Research has found that therapy dogs help make people feel better. Interacting with therapy dogs is said to ‘temporarily affect the release of some of the brain’s neurotransmitters, including dopamine and oxytocin, while cortisol levels decrease.’

Therapy dogs are either therapeutic visitation dogs, animal-assisted therapy dogs and facility therapy dogs. However, they also work alongside people who need a companion beside them at all times.

Therapy dogs are typically well tempered dog breeds and don’t shed excessively, which allows most people to interact with the dog. They’re also well socialized with various environments and people. That lets the dog feel comfortable with traveling around and being exposed to different people and environments. In this article, we’re going to examine what people should know when flying with therapy dogs.

Flying with therapy dogs in the United States

People are allowed to go flying with therapy dogs in the United States. There are, however, rules and regulations they must follow before boarding a plane with their companion.

In order to fly with a therapy dog in the United States, the dog’s owner must have appropriate documentation.

This documentation needs to be reported at least 48 hours before the person’s scheduled flight departure time. Regulations concerning that matter require that requests to go flying with a therapy dog are reported during that time frame, allowing the airline to verify the documentation with the owner’s doctor. In other words, the airline won’t allow therapy dog owners who haven’t previously contacted the airline in advance to board their flight with their dog in tow.

The therapy dog documentation letter needs to be drafted from the dog owner’s mental health doctor and possess a professional letterhead. It also must not be more than a year old. The dog owner also needs to have a mental health disability, meaning their mental illness must physically and mentally impair them from regularly living their life. Other documentation to bring includes the dog’s certification records, health certificates and vaccine records.

People who want to go flying with therapy dogs must take care of getting their pet cleared for flight before even boarding the plane. This allows both owner and pet to be prepared for the flight well in advance.