News Roundup: American Airlines Tightens Rules On Emotional Support Animals

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 15, 2018 1:55 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A Texas-based airline is reigning in the types of animals passengers can bring on board for emotional support. Fort Worth-headquartered American Airlines released revised guidelines Monday that ban a range of animals. For example, you definitely can’t bring any snakes on their planes. But that is just the tip of the banned animal iceberg explains, Conor Shine, who covers aviation for The Dallas Morning News.

“Also goats, ferrets, insects, spiders – anything with a horn or a hoof – generally will not be allowed to be classified as an emotional support animal,” Shine says. 

Shine explains why American Airlines is taking this step now.

“So, this is in response to what has been a growing trend where people have been bringing cats and dogs, but also all other manner of animals on board planes by describing them as a emotional support animals,” Shine says. “That term had been, sort of, not very well defined by airlines so people, continued to kind of push the envelope,” Shine says.

Between 2016 and 2017, American saw a 40 percent spike in the number of support animals brought on planes.

When these new policies take effect on July 1, passengers traveling with emotional support animals will be required to notify the airline 48 hours in advance.

“There’s also some documentation that’s required,” Shine says. “There’s a waiver attesting that your animal can be behaved. Something from a mental health professional stating that you do have a need for this support animal, and so you have to make sure all that information is provided to the airline before you travel.”

The new policy will not affect existing guidelines for trained service animals that assist people with disabilities.

The Texas attorney general is pursuing charges against a Mexican national accused of voting illegally in Harris County.  Attorney General Ken Paxton says the case is about upholding the integrity of elections.  But University of Houston Political Science Professor Brandon Rottinghaus told Houston Public Media there are also political implications.

“This reason this is such a big issue for Republicans is that it combines both illegal immigration and voting rights. These are both red-meat issues and any Republican who looks like they’re on the ball on this can make some major movement in terms of the electorate,” Rottinghaus said.

Paxton’s office announced the indictment of Laura Janeth Garza Monday. She’s accused of voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election after stealing the identity of a U.S. citizen.

A former member of Congress from Texas who resigned after revelations that taxpayers footed the bill for his $84,000 sexual harassment settlement has a new Gulf Coast government job.

Blake Farenthold has been hired as a legislative affairs director for the Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort, run by the Calhoun Port Authority.

Farenthold made the announcement yesterday during an interview on the Corpus Christi-area radio station KKTX. 

“I’m starting a new job today that has an hour-and-a-half commute, so you’re gonna have me listening and calling a whole lot now I think,” he said.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports Farenthold’s annual salary in Port Lavaca will be $160,000.