Delta Air Lines Inc. will no longer allow customers to use “pit bull type” dogs as support or service animals, the company announced Wednesday.
The airline quietly updated its service and support animal policy in March following a nearly 85 percent increase in cases of dogs urinating, defecating, or biting employees.
“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 said in a statement.
Kathryn Hurley, who helps run a dog rescue service in Los Angeles, says the policy update is nonsense.
“I understand that people abuse the [emotional support animals] rule and actually side with tightening up restrictions to make sure dogs are well behaved, trained, and needed but banning a breed is and always will be completely ignorant, unhelpful and discriminatory,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
The ban has drawn ire from animal advocacy groups.
In response to the policy change, Matt Bershadker, the Chief Executive Officier of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), accused Delta of promulgating “false and life-threatening stereotypes” of pit bulls.
“Every dog is unique, even dogs within the same breed, and their behavior is influenced by many factors,” he said. “Delta Airlines should resist unwarranted breed prejudice and rescind its breed ban.”
The rule change is scheduled to take effect on July 10.