LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Millions of people fly into and out of Los Angeles International Airport every year, and it’s not uncommon to see four-legged friends accompany passengers as they travel.
“They’re my service dogs,” Heidi Collier, a traveler, said.
Collier was traveling to Texas with her family and two service dogs, Butter Bean and Nickie Noodles. Collier said she suffers from a spinal cord tumor, which causes seizures.
“Butter Bean will jump on me when he sees I’m gonna go to seizure,” she said. “He jumps and he will lick all over me and bite my ears attack with the seizure.”
Collier calls them her life savers — not only physically, but emotionally.
“I think having an emotional support animal is huge,” she said.
But a new proposal from the federal government could put a stop to it.
Under the proposed new rules, emotional support animals would not be considered service animals. A service animal, under the new rules, would be narrowly defined as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform a task for the benefit of a person with a disability.
Ultimately, though, the decision would be up to the airline.
The new rules have been proposed to crack down on passengers traveling with unconventional pets — pigs, turkeys, miniature horses, squirrels and peacocks.
Collier’s son Stevie said he was fine with the proposal.
“I think anyone that has a disability or needs some sort of support, I think they should bring that onto the airplane,” he said. “But anything that’s going to cause a hazard or is going to be disruptive to everybody else, I don’t believe that should be on the airplane.”
The airline industry group, Airlines for America, was all for the proposed changes, saying the health and safety of their passengers was their number one priority.
“I don’t want to offend anybody, but I think dogs are different,” Collier said. “I don’t know how you can develop that bond with a goldfish or a peacock.”
The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal. After that, the Department of Transportation will make its final decision.