Delta Airlines has said it will no longer allow passengers to fly with “pit bull type” dogs as service or support animals. According to an Associated Press news report, the ban was announced this week as an enhancement to its policy regarding animals in passenger areas. Delta has also said it will limit travelers to a single emotional support animal per flight. These changes are expected to take effect July 10.
Delta issued a statement saying that this new ban comes after growing safety concerns amid reports that several employees were bitten. The ban, however, is prompting a huge social media backlash and also confusion about which dogs would fall under the policy. Delta’s essentially describes them as “bull type dogs” on its online list of prohibited animals that includes spiders, goats and reptiles.
Earlier this month, JetBlue also made it harder for passengers to bring emotional support animals on board flights. Beginning July 1, JetBlue will require customers to submit forms from a veterinarian vouching for the animal’s fitness and vaccinations. Customers are also required to tell the airline 48 hours in advance if they will travel with a support animal. In addition, they must accept liability if the animal hurts someone or damages property.
Issue with Support Animals
Unlike service animals such as guide dogs, support animals do not require any special training. Since airline pet fees are waived for support animals, their numbers have soared. The government is considering new restrictions for people to bring these animals on board airlines. United said it carried 76,000 emotional support animals in 2017, up nearly 77 percent from the year before. At Delta, “animal incidents” have surged 86 percent since 2016.
So, where does all this leave those who have been injured by these emotional support animals? In such cases, both the owner of the animal and the airline can be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Airline passengers have the right to be comfortable during the flight. And airline companies as mass carriers have a duty of care to transport their passengers safely. That includes without them getting injured by animals.
If you have been injured on a flight by a support animal, you have legal rights and options. You may be able to seek compensation from the dog owner and the airline for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to offer you more information.