Delta is adding new restrictions to its service and support animal policies, and the updates could affect many dog owners across the country.
Beginning July 10, the airline is limiting emotional support animals to one per passenger, and banning “pit bull type dogs” as both service and emotional support animals, USA Today reported. (A service animal is one specifically trained to do work for people with disabilities, while an emotional support animal provides comfort without specific training.)
The update comes about six months after Delta changed the requirements for emotional support and service animals, and at a time when many major airlines — including American, United, JetBlue — are revising their animal policies.
Delta's ban includes pit bull mixes. It is unclear whether this policy also includes bull mastiff breeds, which can look similar to pit bulls but are their own separate breed category. They are often mistaken for pit bulls. Other breeds like bulldogs and terriers are also related to pit bulls but are not specifically named. Since the policy says “pit bull type” dogs, these breeds may also be under scrutiny.
Since the updated policy will take effect July 10, that leaves a limited amount of time for people who may have a pit bull as their service or emotional support animal to make other travel arrangements. However, airline officials say the changes are out of concern for public safety.
“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," a spokesperson for the airline said, according to CBS News.
Many U.S. airlines have revised their animal policies after a string of incidents involving pets on flights. Delta states on its website that the changes follow “an 84-percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals since 2016, including urination/defecation, biting and even a widely reported attack by a 70-pound dog.”
Travelers with questions about the policy and how it may apply to their service or support animal should contact the airline.