JetBlue is asking passengers for more proof that emotional support animals are actually needed and well trained.
Officials with the airline announced the new rules Tuesday, stating that the change follows a "dramatic increase in industry incidents involving emotional support animals that haven't been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport or the confined space of an aircraft."
Starting July 1, JetBlue will require passengers with emotional support animals to submit three documents at least 48 hours ahead of the flight.
The documents include verification forms from a medical or mental health professional that says the animal is really an emotional or psychiatric service. Travelers will also have to provide an updated health form from their vet and sign a liability form.
The liability form states that the owner is responsible for any injuries to others or property damage, and assures JetBlue that the animal is “trained to behave appropriately in public.”
Under JetBlue's emotional support animal policy, only cats, dogs and miniature horses are allowed. Animals that are banned include rodents, spiders, reptiles, poultry, ferrets and any animal that appears to be in poor health.
Emotional support animals are often used to help people with emotional or psychiatric issues. They are different from service dogs, which help people with blindness and other disabilities.
This new policy does not affect JetBlue passengers who travel with service animals.
Taylor Garland, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, told CNN these policy changes are necessary.
"People have been abusing this category of animals. This issue has grown so much over the last few years that it starts to legitimately affect the people who really do need these animals," Garland said.
In a statement to CNN, the American Veterinary Medical Association said it hoped to work with the Department of Transportation to develop "consistent, evidence-based policy" to support safe transportation for emotional support animals.
Cox Media Group