Delta Airlines Bans Pit Bull and ‘Pit Bull Types’ On Planes

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In light of recent months’ incidents on various airlines regarding the transport of dogs, many companies are revising their pet transport policies and making changes to dog breeds they will agree to transport.

This policy change is a result of two emotional support dogs biting Delta employees. Critics of the blanket ban say that breed discrimination is unfair, and more, emotional support dogs do not have the same level of training that service dogs do, so to ban them is unjust and discriminatory. The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act allows service dogs to accompany their people, but Delta spokesperson Ashton Kang said that airlines are actually regulated under a different act that allows them to exclude any animals that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)is the act to which he’s referring to, and Delta says that these dogs post potential threat.

Related: Delta Airlines Introduces Stricter Guidelines for In-Flight Service and Support Animals

The problem is that pit bulls and pit bull mixes make excellent service dogs because of their intelligence, loyalty and willingness to please their human. Many veterans have pit bulls and mixes as their service dogs, and restricting their access to a flight because of a couple of unrelated incidents should not be based on a dog’s ‘looks,’ critics of the policy claim.

Ellen Bicker is the executive director of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in California and says that the ACAA currently says that dogs can only be removed or restricted if they pose a direct threat to passengers, or cause significant disruption, and banning them on look or breed is specifically discrimination that is unfair and unlawful. Her foundation works with substantial numbers of veterans across the country matching them with service dogs.

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Of course, there are other carriers–but as airlines slowly but surely change policies restricting dog breeds, it could be a problem for consumers and rescue groups alike. Delta already requires notice and doctor’s orders for emotional support animals, so this restriction is based on breed. While Delta says this is done to promote safety for passengers and employees, others argue that pit bull and pit bull types are excellent dogs for service dogs. Bicker says that they have a proven record as service dogs and their results mirror those that the American Temperament Test Society performs. They test approximately 30,000 dogs of every breed, looking for skittishness, aggression and the ability to differentiate between humans who pose a threat and do not. In those tests, Bicker says that pit bulls rank 86% success rates, second only to Golden Retrievers as the most tolerant breed.