Delta is banning pit bulls from flying as service dogs and customers are furious

  • Delta has updated their support animal policy and is now banning “pit bull type dogs” from traveling with customers.
  • The decision comes on the heels of several incidents involving the dog breed and other animals. The airline cited “safety and security” of Delta employees and customers as their main motivations behind the decision.
  • Pet owners took to Twitter to express their disappointment.

Delta Airlines added further restrictions to its updated support animal policy when it announced on Wednesday that “pit bull type dogs” will no longer be accepted as service or emotional support animals to accompany owners on flights. The policy change includes limiting one emotional support animal per customer. The changes go into effect July 10.

The announcement comes on the heels of a number of incidents regarding defecation and urination by animals on Delta planes, and complaints by Delta flight attendants of being bitten by pit bulls. According to Delta, there has been an 84 percent increase in such incidents involving emotional support dogs since June 2016. Last June, a passenger was mauled by another passenger’s 70-pound pit bull while trapped in a window seat and required 28 stitches across his face.

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

Service animals are trained to assist people with disabilities – such as blindness or hearing loss – while emotional-support animals are companions that a mental health professional has determined benefits a person with a disability. Both animals fly for free on Delta.

The airline now requires passengers to submit fully completed Trained Service Animal documentation 48 hours before the flight. The documentation must be no more than a year old and include the certification from a mental health professional indicating the need for animal support on the flight. It must also include the animal’s vaccination records.

In a statement to Business Insider, Delta defended its new policy: “During the boarding process for Delta flight 295 from Atlanta to Narita, two employees were bitten by a customer’s emotional support animal. One employee received medical treatment onsite and the customer and animal were removed from the flight. The safety of our customers and employees is always our top priority.”

Delta spokesperson, Ashton Kang, confirmed the animal referenced in the above statement was a pit bull.

Delta had previously changed its animal support policy in March, on the heels of a passenger’s dog dying in a United Airline overhead compartment.

But the new rules excluding pit bulls from being considered service or emotional support animals has rubbed some pet owners the wrong way an they have taken to social media to vent.