Delta Air Lines is updating its policy for certain support dogs flying in the passenger cabin on planes.
Beginning on March 1, owners who plan to fly with psychiatric-service dogs and emotional-support dogs must sign a statement saying their animal is well behaved. This will be based on the honor system, meaning the owners aren’t required to provide any sort of obedience or training certification.
They also will be required to provide the animals health records, including vaccinations, at least 48 hours before the flight. These changes are in addition to the current requirements that a passenger must have a letter by a doctor or mental health professional service.
“The new requirements support Delta’s top priority of ensuring safety for its customers, employees and trained service and support animals, while supporting the rights of customers with legitimate needs, such as disabled veterans, to travel with trained animals,” the company said in a statement.
This change comes after Delta reported the number of unpleasant animal incidences, including peeing, urinating and pooping in the cabin increased by 84 percent since 2016. Employees in 2017 also reported they saw an increase in aggressive behavior from service and support dogs – such as barking, lunging and growling – suggesting these animals were not properly trained.
The airline reports that the number of animals flying in the cabin has increased. Delta currently flies 700 animals daily, or 250,000 a year, whereas the number of passengers that fly annually on the airline is 180 million.
“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, Delta’s senior vice president or corporate safety, security and compliance. “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.”
Despite requiring no formal training, this new step may help cut back on the fake service animals that fly for free on airlines, while protecting the legitimate dogs who provide actual support for people.