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Southwest Airlines Will No Longer Allow Emotional Support Animals

(CBS4) -- Southwest Airlines has announced that it will no longer transport emotional support animals in the cabin of the aircraft. Effective March 1, the airline will only accept trained service dogs for travel with customers. Southwest currently serves 24 gates on Denver International Airport's Concourse C -- and has signed a lease for 16 new gates that are expected to be operational next year.

Southwest Airlines passenger planes are
Southwest Airlines passenger planes are seen at Chicago's Midway Airport in Illnois May 31, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

"With this revision, Southwest Airlines will only allow service dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability to travel with the customer," officials stated in a release posted Monday.

The types of disability include a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability -- but no other species will be accepted as a trained service animal.

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"We applaud the Department of Transportation's recent ruling that allows us to make these important changes to address numerous concerns raised by the public and airline employees regarding the transport of untrained animals in the cabins of aircraft," said Steve Goldberg, Senior Vice President, Operations and Hospitality.

"Southwest Airlines continues to support the ability of qualified individuals with a disability to bring trained service dogs for travel and remains committed to providing a positive and accessible travel experience for all of our Customers with disabilities."

As part of this change, Customers traveling with trained service dogs now must present a complete, and accurate, DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form at the gate or ticket counter on their day of travel to affirm a service animal's health, behavior, and training.

Customers may still travel with dogs and cats as part of the airline's existing pets program for a charge; however, the animals must meet all applicable requirements regarding in-cabin stowage.

Customers who hold existing reservations for travel with unaccepted animals after Feb. 28, 2021 may contact Southwest for more information and assistance.

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