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Dog Attack Causes Southwest Airlines to Change Service-Animal Policy

geico pig on a plane

Only dogs, cats, and...miniature horses. 

Southwest Airlines Co. announced changes to its policies for trained service and emotional support animals. The changes are designed to provide clearer guidance to customers traveling with service animals and will go into effect on Monday, September 17. The only emotional-support animals allowed will be dogs and cats and, under special circumstances, miniature horses.

The change comes after an incident on a flight in Phoenix in which a young girl was bit by a fellow passenger's emotional-support dog. 

To create these policy changes, Southwest reviewed the recent enforcement guidance issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT), evaluated feedback from customers, and spoke with numerous advocacy groups that represent customers with disabilities who travel with service animals. Based upon the guidance received, Southwest will enact the following changes on September 17. 

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

ESAs will be limited to only dogs and cats
ESAs will be limited to one per Customer
ESAs must remain in a carrier or be on a leash at all times

Customers traveling with ESAs will still need to present a complete, current letter from a medical doctor or licensed mental health professional on the day of departure.

Trained Service Animals

In alignment with recent DOT guidance, Southwest will accept only the most common service animals—dogs, cats, and miniature horses. For the health and safety of customers and employees, unusual or exotic animals will not be accepted.

 

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