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Delta Relaxes Rules on Emotional Support Animals, But Bans Pit Bulls

Two Dogs Put Down After Fatal California Dog Attack

Delta Airlines is revoking a year-old ban on bringing emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours. However, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Delta will continue to ban pit bull dogs as on-board service or support animals, even though new federal guidelines forbid service animal limitations based on the types of dog breeds. The airline issued a statement saying that it is banning pit bulls out of concern for the safety of its passengers. Delta says it got reports of 40 aggressive animal behavior issues on its flights in 2018 although it did not say how many of those related to pit bulls


Evolving Policy on Support Animals

Passengers who require service animals, defined as those trained to work or perform tasks for a disabled person, such as a guide dog, are allowed to bring dogs, cats and miniature horses for free on U.S. commercial flights. Rules may vary depending on the animal’s size and weight. Emotional and psychiatric support animals fall into a different category. Several airlines require passengers to check in earlier or provide medical documentation establishing the need for a support animal before they board the flight.

Delta said it revoked the ban on support animals because it found a solution to protect the health and safety of those onboard without having to uphold the ban. But the airline has said it is still struggling with the idea of allowing pit bulls. Under Department of Transportation guidelines, a limitation based exclusively on the breed of the service animal should not be allowed.

Delta backed up its stance with statistics showing that while pit bulls only account for less than 5 percent of the overall dog population, they account for 37.5 percent of vicious dog attacks. Many animal rights groups say these numbers are skewed because they are based on unreliable sources for identifying dogs involved in dog bite incidents.

Liability Issues

There is no question that airlines and commercial carriers can be held liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused to passengers. This includes animal attacks on a flight. Airlines have a responsibility to ensure that service animals that are brought in flight don’t pose a hazard to other passengers.

If you have been injured by a service animal while traveling, you may be able to file a personal injury claim seeking compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help victims seek and obtain maximum compensation for their losses in such cases.



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California Personal Injury Blog