TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Tampa International Airport is cracking down on pets amidst the growing trend of people taking their animals nearly everywhere. Starting Thursday, staff is enforcing their policy prohibiting animals from coming to the airport unless they are traveling or are service dogs.
Emotional support animals not flying will not be allowed to be at the airport to greet incoming passengers.
On a number of occasions, pets have gone to the bathroom in the terminal. Others have been let off their leashes. One dog actually bit a TSA agent a few months back.
These are not issues caused by guide dogs or emotional support animals. They’re mostly issues caused by animals people picking up an arriving traveler bring with them.
“People just take their dogs everywhere," Anna Star said. "I’ve seen them in the malls and at Target, and at the nail place I was just at, they had their dog.”
TIA is re-enforcing its policy prohibiting pets unless it's traveling or a service animal.
“We really wanted to do something about the number of cleanups we were having to handle on a daily basis," Tampa International Airport spokesperson Emily Nipps said. "Also, we’ve had injuries to people and injuries to pets and we felt like it was time to start enforcing our policy.”
Issues arose from people simply bringing their pets to the airport to greet incoming passengers.
“If you’re not traveling with a dog I think it’s more of a nuisance," Dawn Ponton said. "Although I do understand people want to bring their dogs to the airport, but it’s already crowded enough.”
Ponton travels weekly with her dog, Mr. White. She always makes sure he’s hooked on a leash or confined to his carrier. Star does the same with her dog, Sammie.
“If she wasn’t good around people or maybe if she went after people," Star said. "Obviously, we wouldn’t be bringing her around.”
Escalators can pose a danger to dogs. The airport says on at least six occasions dogs' paws were caught in the moving stairs.
“That’s the kind of thing we really want to try and avoid," Nipps added. "We really just want to spread the word that airports are not real safe places for animals.”
For now, until March 25, airport staff will be telling people about this policy. After that, they will start issuing verbal warnings. Any repeat offenders will be issued written citations.