[emphasis mine]That policy, which allows service and support animals to accompany passengers on flights, is now being changed by United to require greater documentation about the need for the animal and to show that the animal has had adequate training, has all immunizations up to date and is in good health.
[emphasis mine]Currently, customers with emotional support animals must provide 48 hours' notice to the Accessibility Desk and a letter from a mental health professional. Starting March 1, in addition to 48-hour notice and an enhanced letter from a mental health professional, we will require customers traveling with an emotional support animal to provide additional documentation including:
The customer must provide confirmation that the animal has been trained to behave properly in a public setting and acknowledge responsibility for the animal's behavior.
The customer must also provide a health and vaccination form signed by the animal's veterinarian. The veterinarian must also affirm that there is no reason to believe that the animal will pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others on the aircraft or cause a significant disruption in service.
Emotional support animals are service animals! They are already required to have proper training, be up to date with vaccines, and a good bill of health. Temperament comes under the proper training. They aren't always dogs. Some Service animals are required to be large to physically support or in some cases pin down their charge. Dogs are often chosen for their size, train-ability, and acceptance, but other species of service animals exist. When I took my PTSD/seizure-service-dog-in-training (what would be considered an emotional support animal) with me via airplane, it couldn't fly in cabin with me, because it hadn't reached that point in training to be certified. And I certainly needed veterinary certificates about health and vaccination, same as animals that get certified to read with children or visit hospitals and nursing care facilities. What I didn't have to do and what no one should ever have to do is provide a letter from a mental health professional that discloses the reason that a service animal is needed.
Recently on a plane, I listened to a man explain again and again to airline personnel what his disability was and how his wife supported him and thereby why they needed to sit together. Finally someone talked to him who set things correct and confirmed that he didn't in fact need to disclose his disability with the note his doctor provided, after he had already told multiple people while pleading his case.
Ugh, and the number of personnel in airports pushing customers in wheelchairs that have no idea how to provide wheelchair service, like making sure foot rests are properly adjusted to prevent feet from dragging on the floor, or backing into an elevator so there's enough clearance to maneuver and the person in the wheel chair is facing the same direction everyone generally turns to face in elevators, was absolutely disgusting.