US transportation officials just said Delta can't ban pit bulls from coming aboard as service dogs
- The US Department of
Transportationissued a statement saying that airlines cannot ban specific breeds of dogs from being brought aboard as service animals.
- The ruling applies to Delta, which prohibited pit bull service animals in 2018.
- Service animals, which are typically highly trained to support a person with disabilities, are typically protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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The US Department of Transportation issued a statement on Thursday outlining what approaches airlines can and cannot take toward regulating emotional support and service animals on flights.
Among the topics covered was a ruling that airlines may not impose limits on service animals that are solely based on the animal's breed. Specifically, if dogs are allowed on board as service animals, airlines can't differentiate between breeds.
Delta announced in 2018 that it was banning "pit bull type dogs" as service or support animals.
However, the rule faced swift backlash from disability advocates who argued that service dogs were protected under the Americans with Disability Act.
Service animals are trained and certified to perform tasks or provide support for people with disabilities, and are typically allowed to be taken to most public places. Similarly, airlines can not charge fees for service animals.
Emotional support animals, or "support animals," are not considered service animals, as they do not have the same level of training.
In the ruling, the DOT said that it "views a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal to not be allowed under its service animal regulation."
The ruling said, however, that airlines were still "permitted to find that any specific animal, regardless of breed, poses a direct threat." It also stated that airlines were not allowed to require advance notice for passengers traveling with service animal "other than emotional support animals (ESAs) and psychiatric support animals (PSAs)."
The DOT also confirmed that airlines may ask passengers with service animals to "present documentation related to the service animal's vaccination, training or behavior so long as it is reasonable to believe that the documentation would assist the airline in making a determination as to whether an animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others."
In a statement, Delta said that it would continue to assess its policies:
"Delta 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. In 2018, Delta augmented its policies on service and support animals to reinforce our core value of putting safety and people first, always."