Alaska Airlines sets new limits on emotional support animals

An emotional support pig (Ken Dodds/Flickr creative commons image)

Alaska Airlines has announced a new policy to limit emotional support animals on airplanes.

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A passenger is already required to have a letter from a mental health professional and a health certificate for the animal. But starting May 1, they’ll also need a signed affidavit that the animal is trained to behave in public and that the owner accepts liability for its actions.

And they’ll now have to provide all of this to the airline at least 48 hours before the flight.

Alaska Airlines spokesman Tim Thompson said the changes are in response to increasing problems with emotional support animals on planes.

“We’ve had incidents of barking or animals running up and down the aisles,” Thompson said. “In some cases, they’ve bitten customers, they’ve bitten employees.”

The new policy does not affect certified service animals, which are typically dogs helping owners with physical disabilities. The new restrictions only apply to animals assisting emotional, psychiatric, cognitive or psychological disabilities.

The policy change also limits the kinds of animals allowed.

“So now we’re not allowing amphibians, goats, animals with tusks, horns, hooves. There is an exception for trained miniature horses,” Thompson said.

That’s on top of the animals already prohibited by the airline, including hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes or spiders.

The necessary documents can be emailed and faxed to Alaska Airlines, and the airline’s full policy for emotional support animals can be found at its website.

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Casey here

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