The company also linked to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about a customer who was mauled by a 70-pound support dog. The man received 28 stitches, according to the report.
“The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel,” John Laughter, Delta’s senior vice president for Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance said in the news release. “As a leader in safety, we worked with our Advisory Board on Disability to find a solution that supports those customers with a legitimate need for these animals, while prioritizing a safe and consistent travel experience.”
The new rules will require all customers traveling with a service or support animal show proof of health and vaccinations 48 hours in advance. The rules also require passengers bringing such animals to have a letter prepared and signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional.
Rules also require those with psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals to provide a signed document confirming that their animal can behave to prevent untrained, sometimes aggressive household pets from traveling without a kennel in the cabin.
Delta estimated that 700 service or support animals fly on company flights daily and about 250,000 such animals fly with Delta annually.
Customers have tried to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and other animals, according to the company.
"Delta Air Lines is taking steps to further protect its customers, employees and service and support animals by implementing advance documentation requirements for those animals," the news release stated. "This comes as a result of a lack of regulation that has led to serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight."