Mini horses have been cleared for takeoff. Amid controversy on the topic, the US Department of Transportation recently issued its final word on service animals, stating miniature horses are permitted to fly with passengers as needed. Mini horses are the latest in an array of in-flight service animals that have many passengers scratching their heads.
"We believe that it would be in the public interest and within our discretionary authority to prioritize ensuring that the most commonly recognized service animals (i.e., dogs, cats, and miniature horses) are accepted for transport," US Department of Transporation officials said in the statement.
The statement declared that "entities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act are also required to modify their policies to permit trained miniature horses where reasonable."
Mini horses may seem strange to the average airline passenger, but do not fall into the department's category of unusual animals. In the recent statement, the department upholds airlines' existing ability to deny unusual animals like snakes, ferrets, rodents, and spiders.
This isn't the first time mini horses were allowed in US airports. Many airlines, including Southwest, have allowed mini horses on flights for years now. Mini horses have also been used in airports as therapy animals to soothe stressed travelers.
US airports have 30 days to revise their policies to reflect the issued updates, including Miami International Airport. Miamians shouldn't be surprised if they spot a mini horse making its way through security on their next flight out of the city.
While it isn't illegal for airports to ignore this federal policy change, they will face a penalty.