Airports join airlines in tightening the leash on animal travel

As had been widely reported, airlines have seen a sharp rise in the number of animals traveling on planes. Some are ticketed pets, but many are pets that have been flying for free thanks to loopholes in rules governing the transport of emotional or psychiatric support animals.

American Airlines reported a 40 percent increase in the number of service and emotional support animals on flights between 2016 and 2017. United Airlines cited a 75 percent increase year over year.

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So you want a letter saying you need a support dog on that flight? Here’s why a therapist might balk

“This thing has gotten out of hand,” said Jeff Younggren, a psychologist and clinical professor at the University of New Mexico, who has conducted several studies on the subject of emotional support animals.

The number of passengers flying with emotional support animals on the nation’s airlines has surged. United Airlines, one of the biggest carriers, saw a 75% increase last year compared with 2016. The trend has been accompanied by more incidents of animals urinating, defecating, biting, barking and lunging on planes. A passenger was even mauled by a 50-pound dog on a Delta flight last year.

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Miniature horses are welcome as service animals, but monkeys are a maybe, according to U.S. airline regulators

Miniature horses are in, for now. But capuchin monkeys are on shakier ground.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Wednesday that it will work to make sure “the most commonly used service animals (i.e., dogs, cats, and miniature horses)” are still allowed on flights, despite increased efforts by airlines to crack down on fraudulent assistance critters of all kinds.

Reports of maulings, allergic reactions, faked medical necessity forms and other abuses have poisoned the environment for responsible travelers who legitimately need service animals. The problems have spurred major airlines, including Delta, United and Alaska, to tighten their rules for psychiatric service animals and emotional support companions.

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Is that dog (or pig) on your flight really a service animal?

David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University and editor in chief of its Animal Legal and Historical Center, said fraudulent cases eroded trust about service animals.

“There are many thoughtless, ignorant or arrogant people out there who only think of themselves,” he said. “Abuse is everywhere.”

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