Animals On Planes: Southwest Makes New Rules. What Do You Think? You Make The Call

Southwest Airlines announced new guidelines for emotional support animals and for trained service animals, effective September 17, 2018.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) can only be dogs or cats. Their sole function is to provide emotional support or comfort. A passenger is limited to one. It must remain in the carrier or on a leash at all times and be accompanied by a current letter from a medical doctor or licensed mental health professional.

Trained service animals include dogs, cats, and miniature horses. A service animal is an animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. For example, guiding people who are blind; alerting those who are deaf; pulling a wheelchair; or calming a person with PTSD during an attack. They are not pets; they are working animals.

All traveling animals, under Southwest's policy, "must be trained to behave properly in a public setting and under the control of the handler at all times. An animal that engages in disruptive behavior may be denied boarding. Examples of disruptive behavior include (but are not limited to): scratching; excessive whining or barking; growling; biting; lunging; urinating; or defecating in the cabin or gate area." Ryan Hughes "Southwest Airlines to begin new pet policy on Sept. 17" (Sep. 03, 2018).

So, the question for our readers is: what do you think about the new Southwest Airlines animal travel rules?

Please let us know what you think in the comment section or take the poll. Here are some opinions of some of the McCalmon editorial staff:

Jack McCalmon, Esq.

I think that emotional support animals do a play a part in our society, but it appears - like with other good things - that some take it to the extreme…including claiming iguanas, pythons, and monkeys are for "emotional support". So, boundaries in this area are appreciated. 

Leslie Zieren, Esq.

The policy seems supportive and reasonable as an accommodation until, of course, the moment a miniature service horse defecates in the cabin at 30,000 feet. Then, not so much.

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