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Southwest Changes Service Animal Rules

top story photo Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that updates to the carrier's policies on emotional support and service animals will go into effect on September 17.

"We welcome emotional support and trained service animals that provide needed assistance to our Customers," said Steve Goldberg, Senior Vice President of Operations and Hospitality. "However, we want to make sure our guidelines are clear and easy to understand while providing Customers and Employees a comfortable and safe experience."

Under the new rules, emotional support animals will be limited to only cats and dogs and must remain on a leash at all times. Passengers flying with an emotional support animal must still present a letter from a medical doctor or licensed mental health professional. Trained service animals will be limited to dogs, cats and miniature horses. The airline said that "unusual or exotic animals will not be accepted."

Southwest also announced that it will recognize fully-trained psychiatric support animals (PSA) as service animals. "PSAs are individually trained to perform a task or work for a person with a mental health-related disability. A credible verbal assurance will be sufficient to travel with a PSA," Southwest said.

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