Delta’s new policy banning ‘pit bull-type dogs’ as service or emotional support animals on flights draws ire

Delta Airlines announced Wednesday that it is banning “pit bull-type dogs” used as service or emotional support animals from joining their owners on flights, according to Business Insider.

The new restrictions to the airline company’s support animal policy, which also includes a new limit of one emotional support animal per customer, goes into effect on July 10, Business Insider says.

The announcement comes after several incidents involving defecation or urination by animals on Delta flights, and complaints by Delta flight attendants of being bitten by pit bulls. Delta reports there has been an 84 percent increase in such incidents since June 2016. Last June, Delta said, a passenger was mauled by another passenger’s 70-pound pit bull while trapped in a window seat, and required 28 stitches across his face.

“The safety and security of Delta people and our customers is always our top priority,” said Gil West, Chief Operating Officer said in a statement. “We will always review and enhance our policies and procedures to ensure that Delta remains a leader in safety.”

Service animals are trained to assist people with disabilities such as blindness or hearing loss, while emotional support animals are companions that a mental health professional has determined benefits a person with a disability. Both types of animals fly free on Delta.

The airline requires passengers to submit fully completed Trained Service Animal documentation 48 hours prior to flying. The documentation must be no more than a year old, and include the certification from a mental health professional indicating the need for animal support on the flight. The animal’s vaccination records must also be included, according to Business Insider.

“During the boarding process for Delta flight 295 from Atlanta to Narita, two employees were bitten by a customer’s emotional support animal,” Delta said in a statement to Business Insider. “One employee received medical treatment onsite and the customer and animal were removed from the flight. The safety of our customers and employees is always our top priority.”

The animal referenced in the statement was a pit bull, Delta later confirmed.

The compnay had previously changed its animal support policy in March, on the heels of a passenger’s dog dying in a United Airline overhead compartment.

But the new rules excluding pit bulls from being considered service or emotional support animals has rubbed some pet owners the wrong way. Some have taken to social media to vent.