Delta tightens guidelines for service, support animal travel

- Delta Airlines is making changes to its policy governing support animals.

Since 2016 Delta reports an 84 percent increase in animal incidents on its planes. The airline blames the increase on a lack of regulations on so-called support animals.

The company notes there have been numerous cases of fliers purposely misidentifying their animals and abusing the system. 

Turkeys, possums, snakes, spiders, and other creatures have been brought onto Delta planes under the premise the animals were medically necessary for the mental health of their human travelers.

Tampa-based dog trainer Dave Skidd has been coaching canines and their humans for more than 25 years.

“We see a lot of people that will call wanting us to certify their dog for service so they can fly on a plane when we're not sure they need it,” Skidd said.

Delta Airlines now says they aren't convinced, either. It will require passengers with trained service animals to show proof of their animal's health and vaccinations 48 hours before a flight.

Those with emotional-support animals will have to sign a statement vouching that their animal can behave, fill out a veterinarian health form, and a mental health form.

“I feel there should be proper documentation to prove an animal is a therapy dog," said Tampa International Airport traveler Laura Kelly. "It’s too easy to buy a jacket online and say it's a therapy dog.”

Delta says the new measures will support its top priority of customer safety, while supporting the rights of those with legitimate needs.

The new guidelines go into effect on March 1. 

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