Delta Airlines has announced a new update to its pet policy, which execs first changed in March of this year.
The earlier adjustments changed the airline’s policy on the paperwork required for pets flying the in the cabin, mandating that any passenger flying with an animal — whether it is a service animal, emotional support animal or a pet — provide the animal’s vaccinations or health records at least 48 hours before their scheduled flight. Additionally, under the new rules, travelers flying Delta with emotional support animals now have to sign a voucher before boarding the plane that states their pets can and will behave on the flight.
Delta said it made these changes in response to an increase in pet-related complaints the airline received in 2017. Now, Delta has revealed a new amendment to the policy, this time targeting pit bulls, in response to an incident involving a dog and several Delta employees.
In a press release, Delta announced that effective July 10, all pit bull-type dogs will be banned from traveling with the airline as service or emotional support animals. Too large to travel in the cabin as a passenger’s pet, and banned from flying the cargo holds on Delta planes already, this new restriction bans pit bulls from traveling with Delta all together.
“We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk,” Delta said in a statement provided to PEOPLE.
In addition to banning pit bull-type dogs, Delta also announced that passengers will now be limited to one emotional support animal per passenger. The airline said the pit bull ban and the new emotional support animal limit are “the direct result of growing safety concerns following recent incidents in which several employees were bitten,” and come right at the start of the busy summer season
“The changes follow an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals since 2016, including urination/defecation, biting and even a widely reported attack by a 70-pound dog. Delta carries approximately 700 service or support animals daily — nearly 250,000 annually. Putting this into perspective, Delta carries more than 180 million passengers annually. Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, spiders and more. Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs,” the press release continued.
Additionally, in the same release, Delta noted, “since Delta’s changes took effect in March, many carriers have followed suit.” Several other airlines have added more restrictions to their pet policies, especially in regards to emotional support animals. United also overhauled its pet transport program, resulting in the banning of dozens of breeds following several incidents involving animals, including the death of Kokito the French Bulldog, who died after being placed in the overhead bin of a United flight.