Airline passengers can bring cats, monkeys and other animals aboard domestic flights on a case-by-case basis for emotional support, but not spiders, snakes or rats, the U.S. government said Friday.
The Transportation Department revised guidelines defining a service animal, which until now had been limited to animals that help passengers to manage physical disabilities. The most common is a guide dog, but trained service animals perform a variety of physical assistance, such as pulling wheelchairs.
Passengers also bring animals along for mental health reasons, thus new guidelines were sought to include service animals for emotional support.
In recent years, a wider array of animals has been showing up with passengers for service reasons, including monkeys, cats, an occasional small pig and, in one case, a miniature horse.
The government will also prohibit certain animals from commercial planes because they could pose a danger to flight operations or a public health risk. These include snakes, other reptiles, rodents and spiders.