Delta Air Lines is facing “bark-lash” over a new “paw-licy,” banning pit bull-type dogs from flying as service or support animals on its flights.
As of July 10, Delta is banning pit bull-type dogs from flying in the cabin.
The company said it’s updating its animal policy over safety concerns.
“These updates, which come as the peak summer travel season is underway, are the direct result of growing safety concerns following recent incidents in which several employees were bitten,” Delta said in a statement.
The company also said it would now only allow one emotional support animal per passenger.
“Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and more. Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs,” Delta said.
The airline says that since 2016, there has been an 84 percent rise in incidents involving service support dogs, and they’re erring on the side of caution.
But the change in rules doesn’t fly with workers at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation or ARF, who run the “Pets and Vets” program.
“I think a policy like that, that comes out in blanket form, doesn’t serve the needs of the people, and certainly we want everybody to be safe and feel comfortable on a flight,” said Elena Bicker, ARF executive director, “but for safe and comfortable to some, that means traveling with their service dog.”
Dubord, a Marine veteran, says needs his dog to travel.
“I’m not really well connected with people. So when I’m not around and out and about and stuff, it helps me deal with my anxiety and stuff at home.”
The airline hasn’t defined what they consider a pit bull-type dog or how they would identify that dog, which is a problem for those opposed to the new policy.
Bicker adds it would be hard for anyone to find the pit bull in these pictures as pit bulls are not a breed but a collection of characteristics that people associate with the term.
“So if you suddenly come to the gate and you are with an airline representative, do they have the right or do they have the responsibility to say, based on that dog’s look, that they’re unable to board with their person?” asked Bicker.
Daniel Kimbrell trains pit bulls at ARF. He’s also an Afghanistan war veteran. He said based on behavior, pit bulls are the dogs of choice.
“[They’re a] big part of my life, completely changed my life. I was unemployed for years. and through having the service dog, now I work here,” said Kimbrell.
Vets at ARF say they plan to boycott the airline and hope that other airlines don’t adopt the same policies.