United Airlines to emotional support pet owners: Prove it

By Christie Zizo, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Thursday, February 01, 2018, 10:24 PM EST

On Thursday, United became the latest airline to announce a crackdown on emotional support pets.

  • United to require additional documents for emotional support pets
  • Must prove they are trained, are not a threat
  • Delta announced policy changes earlier this month

In a statement on its website, United announced that starting March 1, pet owners would have to provide proof that an animal has been trained to behave properly in a public setting. 

They must also provide a health and vaccination form, where a veterinarian must say the pet does not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of people on the plane.

"The Department of Transportation's rules regarding emotional support animals are not working as they were intended to," the United Airlines announcement said.

The pet owner is already required to give the airline 48 hours notice and provide a note from a mental health professional.

No changes will be made to the policies for service dogs.

The airline said the change is necessary because it's seen a year-over-year 75 percent increase in passengers bringing emotional support animals on planes. The airline has also seen a rise in incidents.

Delta announced changes earlier this month requiring additional documentation to prove the dog is authentic.

But United Airlines came under the microscope on this issue this week after it was reported that the airline turned a passenger away at Newark International Airport with an emotional support peacock. United said the animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including weight and size.

United said animals currently prohibited from traveling in plane cabins include "hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, reptiles, sugar gliders, non-household birds, exotic animals and animals not properly cleaned or carry a foul odor."