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Federal Ruling Says Delta Must Allow Pit Bulls On Airplanes

One year after Delta Air Lines banned "pit bull-type" dogs from boarding its planes as service animals, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has overturned the ban, allowing for all types of service dogs to fly, People reported.

This is in response to a widespread movement to treat all service dogs with equal and fair respect.

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Disability advocates have previously argued that all service dogs, no matter what breed, are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the federal government has agreed.

In June 2018, Delta instated the ban after citing "growing safety concerns" with the breed on board flights.

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"We must err on the side of safety," the airline said in a statement. "Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week."

Delta spoke to the difficulty of the decision.

Unsplash | Kelli McClintock

They added, "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."

In addition to the pit bull ban, Delta also limited passengers to only one emotional support animal per person.

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Those in opposition to the ban were quick to point out that the vast majority of pit bulls, as well as all dogs trained as service animals, are well-behaved and mild-mannered.

The ban could have very real consequences for travellers in need of their companionship.

To refuse these animals to board a plane with their human companion would be refusing someone emotional support during what could potentially be a difficult flight for them.

Now, the DOT has instructed the airline to allow any breed of service dog on board a plane.

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In a statement, they explained that "dogs as a species are accepted for transport."

They supported the view that service animal regulation cannot exclude any one breed.

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"The Department's Enforcement Office views a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal to not be allowed under its service animal regulation," the department wrote.

The DOT did amend that airlines are still "permitted to find that any specific animal, regardless of breed, poses a direct threat."

Unsplash | Miguel Ángel Sanz

Delta can still refuse a dog from boarding if they consider it a safety threat from flying. However, they cannot judge solely on breed alone.

They also require passengers with service animals to be forthright with information about the dog.

Unsplash | Lucas Ludwig

The ruling does not stop airline employees from asking passengers "reasonable" questions regarding their service animal's vaccination history, training, and behavior.

An official guidance from the department regarding the ruling will be published next week, they said.

Instagram | @theservicepitty

Since their decision was announced, Delta has released a statement saying that it is reviewing its policy.

"Delta continuously reviews and enhances its polices and procedures for animals on board as part of its commitment to health, safety, and protecting the rights of customers with disabilities," they said

Unsplash | Christopher Ayme

"In 2018, Delta augmented its policies on service and support animals to reinforce our core value of putting safety and people first, always."

h/t: People

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