More and more frequently, travelers see animals on board airplanes—in the cabin, rather than as special cargo. According to the Air Carrier Access Act, a service animal is: “any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability; or any animal that assists persons with disability by providing emotional support.”
Which animals qualify?
Service animals and emotional support animals, not pets, must fit the description of an animal which, as determined by a qualified medical professional, provides individuals with a benefit to a physical or emotional disorder. Benefits of emotional support animals might include keeping the individual calm or providing relief from anxiety during travel.
Service animals, such as guide dogs for the blind, or those trained in medical detection for a pending epileptic seizure have more specific benefits, but emotional support animals range from a wide variety that includes dogs, cats, birds, miniature pigs, lizards, and even kangaroos.
The difficulty for airlines is determining which animals are for emotional support and which are merely a pet. While each airline determines its own qualifications, the Act allows airlines to prohibit any animals already banned from entering a foreign country where the flight terminates. Also prohibited is any animal that is too heavy or a size that cannot be accommodated safely in the cabin, any animals that pose a threat to the health or safety of other passengers, and those that might be disruptive to the flight. Airlines flying to and from the United States are only required to accept dogs as service animals.
Airlines may reject reptiles (including snakes), rodents, ferrets, spiders, and sugar gliders at any time.
Is documentation required?
While requirements for each airline may differ, in general, airlines may require any of the following:
- A current (within one year) document indicating that the passenger has an emotional disability recognized by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders); and
- That the passenger needs the animal for emotional support;
- The provider of the document is a licensed medical or mental health professional;
- The jurisdiction of the medical professional, and the issue date of their license.
Airline employees may determine the validity of a service animal via verbal assurance, physical indicators such as tags and harnesses, or requiring documentation. Before assuming an emotional-support animal may board with you, check with your airline(s) since some request a 48-hour advanced notice to accommodate your animal.
If you're moving to a new city and need to transport your pets, do not assume they can board the aircraft with you. Ask your local real estate agent to help you locate a certified pet transport service to bring your pet safely to your new home.
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You might think that only retirees should consider downsizing their homes to accommodate a change in lifestyle. Wrong! Today downsizing might be the right decision for many reasons. There are many pros to simplifying your lifestyle and moving to a smaller home. Take a look at your situation, house, and financial goals to see if downsizing is right for you.
With the trend toward conscious living, and particularly residual from the tiny-house movement, home design is transforming to accommodate a big lifestyle in smaller spaces. In today’s market, downsizing your home doesn’t feel as if you’re just moving into a smaller more cramped space. If you’d like to simplify the amount of square footage you have to manage on a daily basis, but not negatively impact the life you’ve developed in your home, consider the some of the modern home designs and innovations that allow you to go small while still going big.
Know your true needs
If you love hosting big parties in your home—which currently has two living rooms and a large kitchen—but want to downsize or need to downsize to move to a more urban environment, consider purchasing a loft with minimal walls. You’ll have fewer square feet to manage, and the open floorplan still allows you to be the fantastic host you've always been.
Would you like to buy property but can't afford to build the big house on the new land? If acreage and the big outdoors is your priority, consider placing a modern modular home on your lot instead of building from scratch. Innovations in modular design and home storage solutions allow you to have a beautiful current home at a lower cost, with more manageable square footage. With less time spent maintaining your home and the savings enjoyed from investing in a modular home, you'll be able to spend time going on those hikes, taking out the boat, or going for a ride around your land.
Consider your lifestyle
If you find that you don't spend much time at home and aren't using the ample space you have, downsizing might be the choice for you. Do you enjoy traveling? Is eating out your preference? Downsizing to a smaller, well-appointed home can allow you to free up additional funds and time to use toward entertainment and adventures. You may even find you have enough extra liquidity to invest in another property that creates additional cash flow. If you aren’t using the big home you have, think about what you do use, and what activities you prefer. Then, find a new space that benefits your lifestyle.
Reduce your footprint
Whether or not you’re a big believer in reducing your carbon footprint, downsizing your living space can help you achieve your environmentally conscious goals, or it can merely be a bonus. Smaller homes automatically come with less energy usage and maintenance requirements reducing your monthly costs. They also allow you the financial opportunity to invest in new equipment such as more efficient heating and water systems, or solar paneling and xeriscaping to reduce your energy use even more—and you’ll get to keep reaping the financial benefits long-term.
Chat with your local real estate professional about the downsizing move that’s best for your desired lifestyle and start searching for your new home.