JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – You may have caught it on News4Jax.com or in one of our newscasts-the story of a woman who was arrested for trying to board a plane with her pet peacock. It's an animal that she says she uses for emotional support.
Now, a local woman is speaking out saying it's situations like this that ruin it for people like her--even though her emotional support animal is also a little unusual.
When you meet Karin Rogers, it's likely that Lillian, her English Angora rabbit, is nearby. Karin relies on Lillian for emotional support.
"She's helped me a lot, personally," Rogers said. "I've suffered from anxiety and depression my whole life and my psychiatrist suggested since I was living alone that having a pet would good."
Lillian and Rogers have been together for two years, and Lillian is no dumb bunny. She has her own Instagram account, eats better that some college students and even has a wardrobe. But none of that matters when it comes time to hop on a plane. As Rogers found out when she tried to take Lillian on Southwest Airlines.
"They consider her a rodent," Rogers said. "They said because she wasn't a cat or dog that she couldn't fly on that flight."
When Delta announced this week it was changing the rules for service animals, it hit Rogers hard. She knows Lillian isn't the typical service animal but feels she will suffer because of what others are doing-like the woman who recently tried to bring the peacock on the plane.
"I think the situation with the peacock, and I don't know her exact situation, but that actually does us a disservice because it's kind of turning it into a joke," Rogers said.
Airlines like Southwest and United already have tougher rules, but both now require extra documentation for service animals and reserve the right to refuse certain types. Delta will soon have the same, tighter regulations, but they went a step further. Anyone flying with a service animal must get approval 48 hours in advance of their flight.
Airlines are taking these steps because incidents with animals going to the bathroom on the plane or biting or attacking someone have increased more than 80 percent. Delta's new policy goes into effect on March 1.