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Southwest restricts emotional support animals, service animals

No emotional support turkeys will be allowed on Southwest.

Southwest Airlines has announced new restrictions on emotional support animals and service animals, following similar moves by Delta Air Lines and other carriers.

>>MORE: Delta passenger bitten by emotional support dog couldn’t escape, says attorney

Dallas-based Southwest, the second-largest airline in Atlanta, announced that starting Sept. 17 it will limit emotional support animals to one dog or cat per customer.  No other types of animals such as turkeys, pigs or peacocks will be allowed.

Southwest also said the passenger will need to present a letter from a doctor or licensed mental health professional, and the emotional support animal must remain in a carrier or on a leash.

When it comes to trained service animals, the airline said it would accept the the most common types -- dogs, cats and miniature horses. Southwest added that “unusual or exotic animals will not be accepted.”

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The airline said it made the changes after reviewing recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation, getting feedback from customers and employees, and speaking with advocacy groups for people with disabilities who travel with service animals.

The move comes after Delta in July began limiting each passenger to one emotional support animal, along with prohibiting pit bulls as service or support animals.

>>Delta’s ban on pit bull service and support animals faces challenges

About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.

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