The new, significantly stricter regulations are in response to an uptick in on-board incidents involving psychiatric service and support animals on the airline in recent years. Since 2016 alone, Delta has seen an 84% increase in reported animal incidents, according to the press release. Those have included everything from urination/defecation, biting, and even one attack during which a passenger was pinned against the window and brutally bitten in the face by a 70lb dog sitting in the lap of another passenger in the same row.
The airline reportedly carries approximately 700 service animals every single day, or nearly a quarter of a million per year. It also reports that passengers have attempted to board with all sorts of rather, uh, unconventional service animals -- from turkeys and gliding possums, to snakes and spiders -- abusing the "true intent" of existing rules. Presumably, adding a little more red tape to the process should cut down on all the madness.