Delta Air Lines has announced a new policy that requires people with service animals to provide proper documentation, proving that their animals are both healthy and trained, enabling them to fly. This must be provided 48 hours before the scheduled flight’s departure.
Delta has said that two-thirds of the alleged service animals on their flights are designated as emotional support dogs — over 160,000 emotional support dogs a year flying with their owners. Last June, a large 70 pound dog was reported to have bitten another passenger in the face. They have recently had a significant surge in complaints ranging from attacks to dogs urinating or pooping in the cabin — a clear indicator that many of these dogs have not been trained to any kind of standard required for service animals, including legitimate emotional support dog standards.
As the “service dog” loophole has become more popular, Delta has noted a rise of incidents with dogs by 84% in 2016, which is exactly what led to this change in policy.
This is yet another example of why unnecessary service animals threaten to severely damage the service dog industry as a whole. While many of these people innocently just want their dogs around them, or want the ease of travel without having to coordinate a dogsitter or another form of transportation, many are not aware of the damage their actions have on say, guide dogs for blind people or support dogs for people with crippling PTSD.