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Service Animals on Delta Flights

By Breyer Law Offices on January 26, 2018

We often hear about people who dress their dogs up as service dogs so they can get them into restaurants, stores, and even schools. We represent victims of vicious dog attacks who are suffering from serious injuries, and we know how dangerous untrained dogs with irresponsible owners can be.

Airlines also see the dangers of allowing “fake” service dogs on their flights; these dogs aren’t properly trained and can act aggressively or bite passengers. Delta recently changed the rules regarding service dogs on their flights, and they are hoping to cut down on the number of passengers who are injured by aggressive dogs.

The new rules will go into effect on March 1, 2018, and include the requirement to show proof 48 hours before flying that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated. Owners bringing service animals on a Delta flight at Phoenix Sky Harbor International or any other airport will also be required to sign a form stating the animal is well-behaved and won’t be aggressive toward other people or animals. Finally, they’ll have to submit a letter from a doctor stating they do indeed need a service pet.

Delta says it’s more than just fake service dogs they see on flights. They also have passengers who claim “service” turkeys, possums, and other exotic pets. One reason could be that service animals fly free, and passengers want to avoid the fee of booking them as pets.

What Can Happen with Untrained Service Animals?

An owner who tries to disguise a dog as a service animal risks serious repercussions if that animal bites or injures someone else, especially in a location that doesn’t allow pets. For example, patrons of restaurants and stores expect to be safe from aggressive dogs while dining and shopping, and if someone is attacked, the owner could be prosecuted for putting others at unnecessary risk.

Dogs that aren’t properly trained may be nervous in environments like airplanes, shopping malls, schools, and restaurants. These places are busy, full of noise, have lots of different smells, and the dog is surrounded by large crowds. All of this creates a very stressful environment for dogs, and could result in them acting aggressively when you least expect it.

How Do Owners Disguise Their Dogs as Service Animals?

Unfortunately, it’s not hard to pass a dog off as a service animal. Anyone can purchase a service animal vest online, and even get fake service papers. The industry isn’t regulated and there is no way to get proof the dog has indeed received proper training.

All of this creates a potentially dangerous environment. People who believe they are safe around what they think is a service animal could be at risk. Children who might run up to the dog could get seriously injured. Real service dogs could be attacked.

We hope dog owners think twice before trying to pass their pet off as a service animal, because the risk of injury is just too great for everyone they come in contact with. If you have questions about Arizona dog bites, feel free to call us at (602) 267-1280.

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