Last month, the Department of Transportation rejected Delta's ban of pit bulls and said the airline must allow any breed of service dog on board

By Joelle Goldstein
September 26, 2019 12:52 AM
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Pit Bull
Credit: Getty Images

Delta Airlines is maintaining its stance on pit bulls as service animals.

More than a year after Delta banned pit bull-type dogs from traveling as service or support animals on their flights and subsequently received pushback from the Department of Transportation (DOT), the airline is doubling down on the mandate.

In a press release issued on Monday, Delta Airlines defended their decision to ban pit bulls and said it came after they noticed “a sharp increase in onboard animal incidents and attacks.”

In particular, the airline said data has shown the breed accounts “for less than 5 percent of the overall dog population but 37.5 percent of vicious dog attacks.” There have also been more than 40 reported incidents in 2018 alone that involved aggressive animal behavior on a Delta flight, according to the airline.

Given this information, Delta said they haven’t figured out a solution that satisfies both pit bull owners and the airlines’ safety requirements so they will uphold their mandate until they figure it out.

“We will never compromise on safety, and we will do what is right for the health and safety of our customers and employees,” Senior Vice President – Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance John Laughter said. “We continue to work with the DOT to find solutions that support the rights of customers who have legitimate needs to travel with trained animals.”

“The safety of our people is paramount,” added Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President – In-Flight Service. “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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Following the announcement, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund spoke out about ban and supported the DOT’s argument, who demanded in August that the airline must allow any breed of service dog on board because “dogs as a species are accepted for transport.”

Kitty Block, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said Delta’s ban would be harmful to many and sends the wrong message about pit bulls.

“Delta’s decision to maintain its discriminatory ban on pit bull-type dogs as service dogs is misguided and will hurt countless individuals. We continue to offer Delta and all airlines our support to implement alternatives that keep the skies friendly for people and animals alike.”

“Delta is flouting the Department of Transportation’s guidance and setting a barrier for carrying pit bull-type dogs,” Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund, added. “We applaud DOT, which acted in accordance with its regulations by issuing this guidance and we urge all airlines to comply by not excluding pit bull-type dogs.”

In addition to banning pit bull-type dogs, Delta Airlines announced that it would be discontinuing its eight-hour flight limit for emotional support animals, which restricted those animals from riding on flights longer than eight hours.

The rules on emotional support animals vary between airlines, though many airlines, including Delta, only accept cats, dogs, and miniature horses over the age of 4 months as ESAs.