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Delta Air Lines Bans Pitbulls as Emotional Support Animal Crackdown Continues
June 26, 2018
Last week, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced a ban on pitbull and pitbull-related dog breeds amid growing concern over the abuse of policies around airline emotional support animals (ESAs). The news comes on the tail end of a crackdown on emotional support animals in airplane cabins and further scrutiny over policies around transporting animals in airplanes in general.
On June 20th, Delta added pitbulls and pitbull-related breeds to its list of banned animals used for emotional support animals. According to the airline, recent incidents in which airline staff were bitten by pitbulls added urgency to the new ban. In addition to the new restrictions, the airline has also limited the number of ESAs that each traveler can bring to one.
Delta’s policy comes in a year in which all three major U.S. air carriers have tightened down rules around transporting animals both in the cabin and in the cargo hold. In March, Delta updated its ESA policy to impose new strict rules around bringing animals on board. Among other requirements, passengers traveling with ESAs are now required to provide animal training forms, veterinary health forms and a signed letter from a trained physician.
American and United quickly followed suit. In May, American put together its new policy that specifically barred passengers from bringing emotional support goats, ferrets, sugar gliders and a litany of other animals onto commercial flights.
According to the airlines, the new rules were required to curb the number of animals making their way onto flights and potentially disrupting passengers. Delta’s updated policy in March suggested that there has been "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." In January, one passenger even brought a peacock on a plane.
Separately, airlines have also started cracking down on the types of animals that can be transported underneath the plane. Early in the week, United Airlines announced that it was going to restrict the animals that it would transport to only cats and dogs. This comes on top of recent restrictions at the airline around carrying brachycephalic and other breeds of cats and dogs that have a higher probability of health issues while in transit.
Delta’s new policy around pitbulls and pitbull-related breeds goes into effect on July 10th.
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