Airlines Tighten Policies on Emotional Support Animals

U.S. & World

More travelers are flying with service and support animals, sometimes unconventional ones. Now airlines are tightening the leash on animal restrictions.

This week, American Airlines announced it will ban certain support animals, including goats, hedgehogs, insects, and any animal with an odor.

United, Delta, and Alaska have already imposed stricter rules for animals in flight. They’re hoping to reduce the growing problems the animals have caused. Delta cited an 84-percent hike in animal related incidents since 2016.

They’re also cracking down on bad behavior. Most won’t allow an animal that growls, barks, or jumps.

A misbehaving animal could be denied boarding or removed from the plane.

Delta and American Airlines require documentation for support animals at least 48 hours before travel. The forms include behavior guidelines and health information. 

“Making sure they are up to date with vaccinations,” veterinarian Laura Dayton said. “For dogs, that’s the rabies vaccination, the distemper parvo vaccination.”

If you need to get a travel kennel, don’t wait until the last minute.

“About two weeks before you travel, switch from wire crate to this nice airline crate, so it’s nothing new and they can be comfortable and relax,” said dog trainer Helen Barker. 

Preparing ahead of time can make it a smoother trip and ensure requirements are met.

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