Delta rolls out new rule for service animals

Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport
A Delta Air Lines plane at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, on May 8, 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Fido may not be able to fly on Delta Air Lines soon.

The Atlanta-based carrier will soon start requiring passengers to provide documentation and proof of health for their service animals at least 48 hours in advance of flying. The new requirement takes effect March 1.

“This comes as a result of a lack of regulation that has led to serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight,” the airline said in a news release. “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.”

Delta said it carries approximately 700 service or support animals daily and nearly 250,000 every year. The airline said customers have tried to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes and spiders.

“Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs,” the airline said, adding it has seen an 84 percent increase in reported animal “incidents” since 2016.

These “incidents” include urination, defecation, biting and a high-profile attack by a 70-pound dog. In 2017, Delta employees reported increased acts of aggression from — such as barking, growling, lunging and biting — from service and support animals.

This type of behavior not typically seen in these animals when properly trained and working, the airline said.

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