JetBlue tightens policy on emotional support animals

JetBlue wants proof that your miniature ponies or other emotional support animals are really for emotional support be...

Posted: Jun 6, 2018 10:23 AM
Updated: Jun 6, 2018 10:23 AM

JetBlue wants proof that your miniature ponies or other emotional support animals are really for emotional support before they are allowed on a plane.

The airline became the latest carrier to tighten its policy regarding emotional support animals traveling on planes when it laid out the new rules on Tuesday. Airlines in recent years have seen a spike in the number of animals that are traveling as emotional support pets, which are not required to be crated in the cabin and can ride along for free.

JetBlue said in a statement that the policy change for emotional support animals "follow a dramatic increase in industry incidents involving emotional support animals that haven't been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport or the confined space of an aircraft."

The airline said this "creates health and safety risks for customers, crew members and other service or support animals."

Emotional support animals help people with emotional, psychiatric or anxiety issues, including veterans with PTSD. They're different from service dogs that help people with blindness and other disabilities. JetBlue didn't change its rules for service animals.

Starting on July 1, the airline will require passengers bringing along an emotional support animal to complete three documents at least 48 hours in advance of the trip.

Related: American Airlines tightens policy on emotional support animals

The documents include verification from a mental or medical health professional that says the animal is really for emotional and psychiatric service, a veterinary health form for the animal, and a liability form that that says the animal is "trained to behave appropriately in public." Owners are responsible for injuries to others or damage to property.

The previous policy only required one document confirming the passenger's mental health requirements for an emotional support animal, according to a JetBlue spokesman.

Only cats, dogs and miniature horses are allowed on-board under the new policy. Hedgehogs, ferrets, rodents, snakes, spiders, reptiles and animals with tusks were have long been banned by JetBlue.

The change comes amid reports of animals brought on planes attacking passengers and other service animals. Delta says animal incidents on its planes increased by 84% last year. In one incident last summer, a man was hospitalized from bite wounds when another passenger's 70-pound dog attacked him during boarding, the airline said.

Similar policy changes have been announced this year by American Airline, Delta and United.

American said the number of customers traveling with service or support animals rose more than 40% in 2017. The airline also said that insects, goats and hedgehogs are no longer allowed as emotional support animals.

Taylor Garland, spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, said the policy changes are necessary.

Related: 68% of flight attendants have been sexually harassed

"People have been abusing this category of animals -- it's essentially to bring the family pet along," said Garland. "This issue has grown so much over the last few years that it starts to legitimately affect the people who really do need these animals."

Advocates for emotional support animals say allowing the pet on a plane may alleviate stress for the passenger. They have also said the new regulations are putting an unfair burden on people with legitimate emotional disabilities.

"While we appreciate the need of airlines to individually adopt policies that support good decision-making by their employees and safe travel for their passengers, the AVMA looks forward to further collaborative efforts with the airlines and the Department of Transportation to adopt consistent, evidence-based policy that supports the safe travel of these invaluable animals," the American Veterinary Medical Association said in a statement.

Last month, the Department of Transportation said that it's seeking public comment on changing its regulations regarding the transportation of service animals.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 61°
Columbus
Mostly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 62°
Oxford
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 52°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 57°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather