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Delta Eliminates 8-Hour Flight Rule for Emotional Support Animals, But Keeps Pit Bull Ban

September 30, 2019
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Delta Air Lines announced it will no longer reinforce its eight-hour flight limit for emotional support animals, but will continue its ban on pit bulls.

The policy change comes on the heels of U.S. Department of Transportation’s final statement regarding service and support animals.

The Atlanta-based airline said it worked with the DOT to "develop a solution to protect the health and safety of those onboard while also allowing emotional support animals to fly on longer flights," according to an announcement.

But Delta, which transports nearly 700 service or support animals daily, said it has not yet found a "solution" to allow pit bulls on flights.

The DOT said in early August that it "views a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal to not be allowed under its service animal regulations."

In March 2018 [and again in July 2018], the Atlanta-based airline restricted its support animal policy, limiting the number of emotional support animals per customer to one and banning "pit bull type dogs" as service or support animals.

Delta further cracked down on its service animal policy in December 2018, adding another rule that bans passengers from bringing any emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours. However, the airline is now discontinuing the eight-hour restriction.

Delta said it initially restricted its animal policies because of an 84% increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals since 2016, including urination/defecation, biting and a widely reported attack by a 70-pound dog.

Dog breed bans are not uncommon, with more than 900 U.S. cities enacting breed-specific legislation. Pit bulls are often the most frequent target.

Advocates of breed-specific legislation argue the strength of a pit bull’s bite and propensity to continue an attack is dangerous. Others argue that stereotypes regarding the breed are wrong.

The airline received backlash from the Humane Society of the United States, which called Delta’s service animal policy "discriminatory" last year.

Delta said it continuously reviews and updates its policies for animals on flights.

“The safety of our people is paramount. In 2018 alone, more than 40 instances of aggressive animal behavior occurred aboard a Delta aircraft,” Allison Ausband, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service, said in an announcement. “Our 25,000 flight attendants are my greatest responsibility, and I will do everything I can to keep them safe and send them home to their families in the same condition they came to work.”

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