U.S. Department of Transportation Disallows Delta’s Ban on Pit Bulls as Service Animals

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued final guidance Thursday saying a policy such as Delta Air Lines’ ban on pit bulls as service animals is not allowed.

Delta announced last year that it was banning “pit bull type dogs” as service or support animals, after two employees were bitten by a passenger’s emotional support dog.

But on Thursday, the DOT said in a guidance document on how it plans to enforce regulations of service animals in aircraft cabins that it “views a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal to not be allowed under its service animal regulation.”

“Airlines are permitted to find that any specific animal, regardless of breed, poses a direct threat,” according to the agency.

The DOT said that after its guidance document is officially published next week, airlines will have 30 days to comply.

But it’s yet to be seen if Delta will change its policy to comply.

The DOT in its document released Thursday says conforming with the guidance “is voluntary only” and that its guidance “is not legally binding in its own right and will not be relied on by the Department as a separate basis for affirmative enforcement or other administrative penalty.”

Delta issued a statement saying it “continuously reviews and enhances its policies and procedures for animals onboard as part of its commitment to health, safety and protecting the rights of customers with disabilities.”

The airline said its change in policies last year was “to reinforce our core value of putting safety and people first, always.”

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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kelly Yamanouchi