JetBlue tightens policy on emotional support animals



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

The airline became the last airline to adjust its policy with respect to emotional support animals traveling on airplanes when the new rules were established on Tuesday. Airlines in recent years have seen an increase in the number of animals traveling as emotional support pets, which are not required to be housed in the cabin and can travel for free.

JetBlue ( JBLU ) said in a statement that the policy change for emotional support animals "follows a dramatic increase in industry incidents involving animals of Emotional support that has not been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport or in the confined space of an airplane. "

The airline said that 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 problems, including veterans with PTSD. They are different from service dogs that help people with blindness and other disabilities. JetBlue did not modify its rules for service animals.

Beginning July 1, the airline will require pbadengers to carry an emotional support animal with them to complete three documents at least 48 hours before the trip.

Related: American Airlines tightens policy on emotional support animals

Documents include verification by a mental health or medical professional that says the animal is really for emotional and psychiatric service, a veterinary health form for the animal and a responsibility form that which says that the animal is "trained to behave appropriately in public". The owners are responsible for injury to others or damage to property.

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

Only cats, dogs and miniature horses are allowed on board according to the new policy. Hedgehogs, ferrets, rodents, snakes, spiders, reptiles and tusked animals have been banned by JetBlue.

The change occurs in the midst of reports of animals brought in aircraft that attack pbadengers and other service animals. Delta says that the incidents with animals on their planes increased 84% last year. In one incident last summer, a man was hospitalized for bite wounds when another 70-pound dog attacked him during boarding, the airline said.

Similar policy changes have been announced this year by American Airline, ( AAL ) Delta ( DAL ) ] and United ( UAL ) .

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

Taylor Garland, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Assistants, said that policy changes are necessary.

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"People have been abusing this category of animals, it's essentially to take the family pet," Garland said. "This problem has grown so much in recent years that it begins to legitimately affect the people who really need these animals."

Advocates of the animals' emotional support say that allowing the pet on a plane to relieve the pbadenger's stress. They have also said that the new regulations are placing an unfair burden on people with legitimate emotional disabilities.

Last month, the Department of Transportation said it is seeking comments from the public about changing its regulations regarding the transport of service animals.

CNNMoney (New York) First publication on June 5, 2018: 6:17 PM ET

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