American Airlines updates support animal policy

As more support animals try to fly, American Airlines says leave the goats at home | Miami Herald

The number of customers bringing support animals on flights has skyrocketed in recent years. "Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team, our customers and working dogs onboard our aircraft".

American Airlines is clamping down on what animals passengers bring onboard for emotional support, restricting goats, insects and a slew of other critters, the airline announced Monday.

The airline said it plans to enforce its 48-hour pre-clearance and notification period and that it reserves the right to contact the mental health professional who certified the need for an emotional support animal.

For trained service animals, customers need to provide documentation stating that the animal won't need to relieve itself or can do so in a way that doesn't create a health or sanitation issue for flights scheduled to be over eight hours.

Furthermore, the airline said it would no longer allow non-household birds such as farm poultry, waterfowl or game birds (no birds of prey?), as well as animals with tusks, horns or hooves on flights - although apparently miniature horses that have been properly trained as service animals will still be tolerated.

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The airline worked with several disabilities groups, including the American Association of People with Disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Council for the Blind and My Blind Spot, to develop the new rules.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is proposing an amendment calling on the U.S. Transportation Department to clarify existing policies. There have been some cases of people having fake service or support animals in an effort to get the animal into places they were not allowed.

The changes will take effect on American Airlines flights starting July 1, just several months after a comfort dog died on a United Airlines flight after being stored in an overhead bin. Passengers must provide documentation signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional, and provide proof that the animal is clean and healthy. If an animal seems particularly violent or aggressive, it will also be prohibited from boarding a plane with its owner.

We want to know what you think of seeing more of these animals where they have not previously been welcome, from airlines to the grocery store.

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