Delta Imposes New Rules For Service Dogs After “Serious Incidents”

DALLAS (CBS News) — Soon Delta Air Lines will require additional documentation for passengers taking service animals with them on flights. This comes amid an increase of incidents involving animals, including a dog attack last year.

Starting March 1, customers will have to show proof of health or vaccinations for their animals 48 hours in advance. In addition, owners of emotional-support animals will need to sign a statement confirming their animal can behave. However, the new requirements don’t apply to pets that stay in kennels during flights.

Delta’s new rules are aimed at two different types of animals. The first are service animals, which receive specific training to help blind or disabled passengers. Then there are emotional-support animals, which require no training at all. Both fly for free and are not required to be caged during the flight.

Federal regulators have interpreted a 1986 access-to-travel law to allow support animals in airplane cabins and in apartment buildings that do not allow pets. But some people use untrained pets in order to get them on a plane for free, especially since it’s easy to go online to buy vests or ID card with a “service animal” insignia.

Delta said the idea behind the new regulations is to keep trained service animals and emotional-support animals safe from aggressive ones. Overall, the airline says it carries 700 service or support animals every day. But people have tried to fly with everything from turkeys, to snakes, spiders and even gliding possums, which are also known as sugar gliders.

Since 2016, the company reported an 86-percent increase in ‘animal incidents’, that include animals urinating, biting or showing acts of aggression. Last June, a 70-pound dog flying as a support animal bit another passenger several times in the face on a Delta plane in Atlanta. The victim was hospitalized.

“The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel,” said John Laughter, the airline’s senior vice president of safety and security. “As a leader in safety, we worked with our Advisory Board on Disability to find a solution that supports those customers with a legitimate need for these animals, while prioritizing a safe and consistent travel experience.”

See video, here.