Puppies and kittens have been banned by American Airlines from acting as emotional support animals on their flights. From April 1st animals must be over four months old to travel.
The American Airlines’ policy was tweaked after a recent story of a five-year-old getting injured by an “emotional support” pit bull. Other airlines have already changed their policy including United, Southwest and Delta. Delta has banned all emotional support animals on long haul flights – i.e. flights lasting eight hours or more.
According to a representative for American Airlines the updates announced on Friday are the result of continuing talks between the airline and the US Department of Transportation.
“Animals under the age of four months usually have not received the necessary vaccinations that protect team members and customers,” the airline said.
“American supports the rights of customers, from veterans to people with disabilities, with a legitimate need for a trained service or support animals.”
Flyers are only allowed one emotional support animal and must produce documentation to verify its health and immunization. Trained service animal are still permitted.
The airline states a service animal must be a trained dog, cat or “in some limited circumstances” a miniature horse, whereas emotional support animals are limited only to either a dog or cat.
“Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for team members, customers and working service and support animals,” the airline added.
The airline stated the goal of the changes is to “protect customers who have a legitimate need as well as the team members who work every day to keep all customers safe.”
Who qualifies for an Emotional Support Animal
Anyone with emotional disability can legally qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA). However, you must be certified as emotionally disabled by a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist or other duly-licensed or certified mental health professional.
Animals must be well-behaved and must be able to fit at your feet, under your seat or in your lap (lap animals must be smaller than a 2-year old child). If the animal is in a kennel, it must fit under the seat in front of you with the animal in it