The Department of Transportation says Delta has to let pit bulls fly
But some restrictions on ESAs don't fly with the Department of Transportation (DOT), leading them to crack down on the crack down.
Delta says that there has been an 84 percent increase in animal incidents since 2016, thanks in part to the increase of ESAs on airplanes. Last year, Delta airlines banned pit bulls and pit bull-related dog breeds after two airline staff were bitten by the breed while boarding a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo.
"We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk," Delta told People regarding the new rule.
Now, Delta will have to allow pit bulls on board thanks to a new rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Service dogs of any breed are protected under the Americans with Disability Act, meaning airlines can't discriminate when it comes to specific breeds of animal. According to officials, "a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal is not allowed under the Air Carrier Access Act." Everything from pit bulls to labradoodles are good to go.
The airline can still prevent an animal they consider a safety threat from flying, even though they can't issue a "blanket ban" on breeds. That means, that airline employees can still ask "reasonable" questions about their service animal, including their vaccinations, behavior training, and ability to do its business in a "sanitary" way. They can ban the dog from flying if they feel it's "a direct threat to the health or safety of others."
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Delta also limited the number of ESAs to one per passenger, another rule which the DOT struck down. "Enforcement efforts will generally focus on ensuring that airlines are not restricting passengers from traveling with one ESA and a total of three service animals if needed," the DOT said in a release. "Generally, one ESA should be sufficient for emotional support, but a passenger may reasonably need more than one task-trained service animal."
Pit bulls get a bad rep and are generally considered more violent than other breeds of dogs, but supporters of pit bulls say that pit bulls behave well when their owners treat them correctly.
Regardless, you still might raise a few eyebrows if you try to fly with your emotional support Pitbull, the rapper.