Delta Cracking Down on Emotional Support Animal Requirements on Flights

Most people who love dogs, LOVE DOGS. Dogs are everything lovely and wonderful and pure, and if we could be surrounded in a sea of puppies everywhere we went, a lot of the world’s problems might be solved.

Some people do try to surround themselves with a little bit of that kind of joy by bringing their pet along with them everywhere they go. This spurred the advent of the dog purse, so that you can smuggle your friend into the store with you, or just about anywhere you need to go.

Not everyone is happy with this arrangement. Some people have valid concerns about the possible nuisances or dangers untrained canines can have in public spaces. So what happens? Do people follow the rules and keep their furry companions at home?

Nah. They bend the rules in a desperate attempt to hold on to that dog-induced joy.

You’ve seen them. I’ve seen them. We’ve all seen them.

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Those “service dogs” who provide the very real service of companionship, but aren’t any technical sort of service dog.

It’s easy to tell which ones are legitimate and which are not: the snarling Chihuahua that resembles the spawn of Satan being cradled in its owners arms as it makes a maniacal dive for any passing thing it does not like is a far cry from the placid attentiveness of a Labrador waiting for its master to come along.

But as time has passed, dogs have gotten newer and harder-to-define titles. It’s no longer seen as appropriate to question whether or not a dog is actually a necessary service animal. Almost anyone can make a case for their animal being an emotional support animal (and not just dogs!).

But Delta has had enough. They are beefing up their requirements for what can count as a “service” or “emotional support” animal, “following a sharp uptick in animal-related safety issues over the last few years.” Some of those issues include dogs indiscriminately using the restroom in the airport, barking and growling at passersby, or showing aggression towards other customers.

Senior vice president of corporate safety, John Laughter, stated that since 2016 the 84% increase in incidents was cause for great concern, and something needed to be done.

“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,” he related.

One large emotional support dog had a man cornered in a window seat on a flight in 2017 and mauled his face, leaving the man to get 28 stitches. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like emotional support to me.

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So what will Delta require if you want to bring your critter with you?

More documentation, primarily, proving that your pet has had all necessary vaccinations and sufficient training, and an explanation of why it is necessary for the animal to travel with you. They must be able to be restrained and behave when not caged.

All necessary papers must be supplied 48 hours before the flight. Delta plans to implement this new requirement on the first of March.

It may ruffle some feathers and raise some hackles, but this proposed measure is intended to keep all passengers — two-legged and four-legged — safe and sound, both in the air and on the ground.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking