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Delta Airlines’ New Policy Bans Pit Bull Service Dogs from Flying

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Delta Airlines announced a new policy that, in addition to limiting travelers to one service or emotional support dog, bans any “pit bull type” service dogs from traveling alongside their disabled handlers.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Delta Airlines announced updates to their service and support animal policy which places increased restrictions on how many and which types of animals can fly with the airline.

While the new rules limit handlers to no more than one emotional support or service dog, most infuriating to customers is a new ban, effective July 10, on any “pit bull type” dogs either as emotional support animals or as legitimate service dogs flying with a disabled handler.

Further complicating the matter is Delta’s lack of a definition of what exactly is a “pit bull type” dog. Traditionally, “Pit Bull” is a broad term used to describe breeds including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, or mixed-breed and other dogs having physical characteristics common to these breeds.

However, according to research from the National Canine Research Council, identifying a dog’s breed based off of its appearance is inaccurate. There is also evidence showing that a dog’s behavior or personality cannot be predicted by breed alone because of the wide variety of factors operating on each individual dog.

Who will be making the final determination about whether a service dog qualifies as a “pit bull?” Will that determination be made on appearance alone? An Animal Farm Foundation study found that dogs are misidentified as pit bulls 75% of the time when based on appearance alone.


The breed ban also has many advocates questioning its legality.

Under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, any dog breed can legally be a service animal. And, breed bans, like those across hundreds of municipalities in the nation which ban pit bulls, do not apply to service dogs. Specifically, the law states that “municipalities that prohibit specific breeds of dogs must make an exception for a service animal of a prohibited breed, unless the dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.  Under the “direct threat” provisions of the ADA, local jurisdictions need to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal’s actual behavior or history, but they may not exclude a service animal because of fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave.” 


However, surprisingly, commercial airlines are not required to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Instead, they follow guidelines set forth by the Air Carrier Access Act, a Federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in air travel.

Under the Air Carrier Access Act, service dogs may be excluded from travel, but those exclusions have traditionally been determined on a case by case matter. More specifically, “as a carrier you must determine whether any factors preclude [the service dog] traveling in the cabin as a service animal (e.g., whether the animal is too large or heavy to be accommodated in the cabin, whether the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others, whether it would cause a significant disruption of cabin service, whether it would be prohibited from entering a foreign country that is the flight’s destination). If no such factors preclude the animal from traveling in the cabin, you must permit it to do so.”

Limiting access to a service dog based solely on their breed places unfair and discriminatory restrictions on that service dog’s disabled handler.

“The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel,” said John Laughter, Delta’s Senior Vice President — Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance. “As a leader in safety, we worked with our Advisory Board on Disability to find a solution that supports those customers with a legitimate need for these animals, while prioritizing a safe and consistent travel experience.”

Weigh in! Do you believe airlines should have the right to ban specific breeds of service dog? Explain why or why not in a comment below!

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  1. If you really want to stop dog attacks, then people should be fighting for laws on responsible dog ownership. As history has shown, there will always be a new dangerous dog. Getting rid of a breed will do absolutely nothing in stopping dog attacks. If people don’t know how to train their dog or they want an aggressive dog, dog banning isn’t going to protect anyone. As a dog trainer, I suggest stop listening to the media and do your own research. For one, ANY service dogs are going to be trained extremely well. If the dog is actually a service dog, then there will be no issues from the animal.

  2. Avatar Of Vicki C.

    Vicki C.


    Delta, I can’t believe your blatant breed discrimination!! I HAVE an American Staffordshire Terrier, and the ONLY thing that my service dog will do is kiss you to death!! She helps me up and down steps, gets my meds for me when I’m choking and can’t breathe; as well as helps me to keep my balance when I have to stand for long periods. You automatically assume that because of her breed, she’ll hurt someone; well you’re wrong!! ANY breed could hurt someone!! Whether or not a dog attacks someone 99% of the time has to do with how they were trained; it has NOTHING to do with what type of breed they are!! Unfortunately for you Delta, you WILL be losing customers. #savethepitties #bestfriendsanimalsociety

  3. Avatar Of Debbie



    They need to ban stupid people not dogs. Pitbulls are not mean in nature they are taught to be mean by an irresponsible owner. I have seen some children meaner than a dog! Educate youselves people!

  4. Avatar Of Maria S

    Maria S


    I have a standard poodle for a service dog. In the past I have had minimal issues when flying. But now a days it’s been a big issue. If airlines need to take emotional support animals on a case by case basis. Granted they help comfort these individuals but they are not trained to handle being in a crowded enclosed plane like service dogs are. Most of the issues are coming from them and fake service dogs. Legitimate service dogs have to go through years of training and also have pass a public access test. If a service dog fails the public access test they must either be let go as a service dog or go back in training to work on the skills or tasks it failed. Then the service dog can retake the public access test. It doesn’t matter what breed the dog is that becomes a service dog. I can’t understand where the airlines staff all of sudden get their credentials to decide which breed of dog is acceptable as a service dog. If the breed of dog is appropriately trained to be a service dog, pass the public access test then it’s capable of working with its handler. I said my piece.

  5. Avatar Of Joe Dickey Joe dickey says:

    I know no less than 3 people who claim their dogs are service animals. When in fact they are not. They just say that so they can take them with them. They have gone so far as to get notes from their doctor saying so. Way to many people just like them.

  6. Avatar Of Ann



    Geez, their trying to protect the flying public from being mauled by your 4 legged beast.

    • Avatar Of Mona



      Lady your nuts!!!

    • Services dogs are safer than ANY average dog. Just because a dog is born a certain breed doesn’t mean that it’s going to automatically be dangerous. Then ALL pit bulls, German shepherds, rottweilers, etc. would be attacking others. And you clearly don’t see that. Now, it is true that certain dog breeds require different training because what they were originally bred for, but that’s an issue for people to understand and take into account. If you truly believe that getting rid of all Pit bulls will stop dog attacks, then you don’t know the past history of dogs. As history has shown, there will always be a new aggressive dog. The solution should be to make people more responsible for their dogs. Getting rid of the dogs will solve NOTHING.

    • Avatar Of Ericfrances



      Right Ann!
      Can’t we imagine te dog would be bored during a 12 hours flight? Or that a kid is playing with the dog while the emotional owner is asleep. I would hate to have a bulldog/pit bull or whatever next to me when I need to go the bathroom by night especially when not seated in the aisle.

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