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Do you fly with a dog, cat or potbelly pig? Alaska Airlines wants more paperwork

A service dog named Orlando rests on the foot of its trainer, John Reddan, on a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport during a training exercise in Newark, N.J. Alaska Airlines wants to see more paperwork before passengers fly with an emotional-support animal. United made similar rule changes in March.
A service dog named Orlando rests on the foot of its trainer, John Reddan, on a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport during a training exercise in Newark, N.J. Alaska Airlines wants to see more paperwork before passengers fly with an emotional-support animal. United made similar rule changes in March. AP file

Flying Alaska Airlines with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal will require three pieces of paper work starting May 1, the company announced Thursday morning.

Tickets purchased May 1 or later will require those traveling with emotional support or psychiatric service animals to provide health and behavioral documents for the animals, a signed document from a doctor or mental health professional. The documents must be submitted 48 hours before departure, the airline said.

Alaska Airlines said the policy change doesn't apply to traditional service animals.

"Alaska is committed to providing accessible services to guests with disabilities and ensuring a safe environment for all flyers," Ray Prentice, director of customer advocacy, said in a statement released by the airline. "We are making these changes now based on a number of recent incidents where the inappropriate behavior of emotional support animals has impacted and even injured our employees, other guests and service animals."

Alaska isn't the only airline changing its policies. United Airlines similarly changed its rules last month. United made its move came shortly after it booted a passenger for trying to bring a peacock on New Jersey-to-Los Angeles flight.

A woman flying from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport on January 28 had her request to bring her emotional support animal – a peacock – on board declined by United Airlines. The Jet Set reported the woman purchased a second ticket

The company says says the number of support animals has increased dramatically in recent years. Alaska Airlines says about 150 emotional support and psychiatric service animals travel on its planes each day.

"Most animals cause no problems," Prentice said. "However, over the last few years, we have observed a steady increase in incidents from animals who haven't been adequately trained to behave in a busy airport setting or on a plane, which has prompted us to strengthen our policy."

The airline said it consulted disability advocacy groups before changing the policy. Those traveling with support animals will receive a boarding pass with traveling tips and guidelines.

The Animal Health Advisory, Mental Health and Animal Behavior forms are available at alaskaair.com.

The company’s says guest who do not submit documentation in advance "will be offered to fly with their pet under existing policies for travel in the cabin or in the temperature-controlled cargo compartment. Existing fleet and breed restrictions, as well as health certificate requirements, will apply."

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497
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