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Delta Air Lines strengthens screening for on animals on flights

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 13:39:47-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Last November, our Insiders Team looked into growing concerns about fake service animals. Now, one airline is taking steps to screen animals that fly with them, to make sure they're the real deal.

Delta Air Lines says it carries around 700 service or support animals every day and nearly 250,000 a year. The airline says safety is a top priority and that means taking a closer look at animals people bring on flights.

While dogs are often associated with service and support animals, delta says customers have tried flying with comfort turkeys, snakes and sugar gliders! Since 2016, the airline says it's seen an 84 percent increase in reported animal incidents, including an attack by a 70 pound dog.

A Tallahassee service dog trainer says she has mixed feelings about the proposal, since it gets into privacy and ADA issues.

"I certainly understand why they're doing it, because yes, there are a lot of people that just want to take their dog on a plane with them, or their chicken or their spider or whatever, and it makes it dangerous for people," said Barbara White-Willner, a trainer and the owner of K-9 SOL.

Starting March 1, Delta will require customers traveling with support or service animals to show proof of health or vaccinations 48 hours in advance.

Those with psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals will also need to show a signed document confirming their animal can behave.

Our Insiders report has more about service animals and what state and local advocates say are the biggest issues. You can find that story here