Delta to ban “pit bull type” service dogs from flights

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Delta has announced that it will ban pit bull and “pit bull type” support dogs on it’s flights, even if the passenger has a note from their doctor. The changes will also limit passengers to a single support animal. The changes come into effect 10 July. The airline hasn’t defined “pit bull type.”

Delta has said that the move comes after 2 staff were bitten by a passenger’s support animal last week as an Atlanta to Tokyo flight was boarding. There are reports that the flight attendants asked three times if they could pat the dog and were told no, but went ahead and patted it anyway.

The ban may see Delta flying into some trouble. The Department of Transport released a statement saying, “a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal is not allowed under the Department’s Air Carrier Access Act regulation.” The Justice Department, which adminsters the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), has also previously ruled that breed-specific bans in municipalities do not apply to service animals of those breeds.

Airlines are not required to comply with the ADA but are subject to the Air Carrier Access Act which “allows both service animals and emotional-support animals to fly free in the cabin but also gives carriers the right to turn away unusual service animals, such as snakes, or animals that are overly large, too heavy or that pose ‘a direct threat to the health or safety of others.'”

Actors Holly Marie Coombs and Denise Crosby have publicly tweeted against the ban.

The ASPCA has also come out against the ban, saying in part, “Delta Airlines should resist unwarranted breed prejudice and rescind it’s breed ban.”

According to experts, including the President of Pits and Rotts for Life Inc, the American Kennel Club, and Dr Julia Albright who is a veterinary behaviorist at the University of Tennessee, pit bulls are not one specific breed. Instead it is a generic term that could include several different breeds.

Delta’s statement from it’s website:
“Delta, which led the industry in March by updating its service and support animal policy, says it will further enhance its restrictions, effective July 10. The enhancements include introducing a limit of one emotional support animal per customer per flight and no longer accepting pit bull type dogs as service or support animals. These updates, which come as the peak summer travel season is underway, are the direct result of growing safety concerns following recent incidents in which several employees were bitten.

Since Delta’s changes took effect in March, many carriers have followed suit. The new requirements support Delta’s top priority of ensuring safety for its customers and employees, while supporting the rights of customers with legitimate needs, such as disabled veterans, to travel with trained service and support animals.

“The safety and security of Delta people and our customers is always our top priority,” said Gil West, Chief Operating Officer. “We will always review and enhance our policies and procedures to ensure that Delta remains a leader in safety.”

The changes follow an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals since 2016, including urination/defecation, biting and even a widely reported attack by a 70-pound dog. Delta carries approximately 700 service or support animals daily — nearly 250,000 annually. Putting this into perspective, Delta carries more than 180 million passengers annually. Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and more. Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.”