Congrats to owners of mini ponies—as long as you have paperwork identifying your tiny horse as a service animal, you're going to be allowed to continue taking it on Southwest flights. But all you other globetrotting exotic animal lovers are fucked: Southwest just released its new animal policy changes, which will kick in September 17 and ban any "emotional support animals" that aren't dogs or cats.
With an announcement on Tuesday, Southwest joined other airlines, including JetBlue, American, and Delta, in cracking down on allowing beasts like peacocks, snakes, and spiders aboard planes. It's a reaction to the recent trend of people claiming that their pet kangaroos and boa constrictors help keep them sane. These policy changes also reportedly reflect the Department of Transportation’s "recent enforcement guidance" and feedback from "customers, employees, and several advocacy groups and animal-related organizations," according to Southwest. Soon, you won't be able to bring your chinchilla on a plane even if you've bought it a ticket. And emotional support animals must come with a letter from a doctor or mental health professional testifying that you need the animal to keep you sane.
The good news is owners of small dogs and cats will still be able to put them in carriers and stash them under seats. But if you want to bring your guide pony aboard, you need to be legitimately disabled and be able to provide "credible verbal assurance" that you require the assistance of a downsized equine. Importantly, you can bring up to three! If you need to find me, I'll be at the Southwest terminal, scouting for groups of three mini horses.
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