Speak out to stop breed-specific discrimination

By on June 27, 2018 with 35 Comments

Last week, Delta Airlines announced it would ban pit-bull-type dogs from flying in the cabin as service and assistance animals. In doing so, the airline is overlooking the fact that there is no evidence that a particular breed of dog bites more than another. And it is creating a hurdle for people with disabilities who rely on their companion animals to help them perform routine daily tasks, including getting from place to place.

Airlines have discretion in how pets fly, but they are also supposed to make reasonable accommodations for service and emotional support animals regardless of breed. When an animal misbehaves, the airline has the ability to remove the animal, and it also has the responsibility to make appropriate accommodations for owners with larger size animals. In their announcement of this policy change, Delta failed to define how they will be identifying pit bulls, which is important because the term “pit bull” isn’t actually a breed, but rather a type of dog — one that is very often misidentified even by those in animal-related professions. Barring an entire type or breed of dog from flying because of a single incident needlessly punishes people who need their service or support animals with them, continues to contribute to a harmful stereotype, and it may not be legal.

Air travel is regulated in part by the Air Carrier Access Act, which provides specific accommodations for service animals and emotional support animals, above and beyond the standard regulations on normal pet transport. Several federal statutes also protect the rights of disabled Americans and provide for reasonable access for service, assistance and emotional support animals. These provisions do not regulate by breed and they already provide ways for business owners and companies to address inappropriate behavior on the part of any assistance animal.

We have reached out to Delta to discuss their situation, but there is a great opportunity for those concerned about this issue to weigh in on the topic of breed bans and other policies impacting service and support animals on airlines: the Department of Transportation is working to amend its regulation on service and emotional support animals on airplanes, and it is inviting public comment. You can leave a comment here and demand that the government support breed-neutral regulations that do not discriminate against specific breeds. Tell the Department of Transportation that what we need are clear, common-sense regulations that keep the spirit of the federal protections for disabled individuals, while balancing the safety of all aircraft passengers.

Scientists, animal professionals and experts agree there is no evidence that one breed of dog is more dangerous than another. On the contrary, we do have data that tells us that the small percentage of dogs who do bite and attack include a range of breeds and mixes. With advances in science and our increasing knowledge about a dog’s DNA and its relationship to appearance and behavior, we now know that a dog’s breed is a complex issue that does not neatly translate into predictive behavior patterns.

Overreacting to incidents such as dog bites isn’t effective or productive, whether it’s done by an airline, by an apartment complex or even by an entire city. Increasingly, lawmakers around America have moved to prohibit breed-specific legislation in their communities because there is no evidence it helps, it is cost-prohibitive, it is difficult to enforce, and it causes tremendous hardships to animals and their owners. In fact, 21 U.S. states have enacted prohibitions on breed-specific legislation and many North American municipalities have rescinded such laws. Earlier this spring, the city council of Castle Rock, Colorado, lifted a 25-year-old breed ban, making it a policy focused on behavior instead of breed. Most recently, Quebec backed off from targeting pit bulls in controversial proposed legislation, with Quebec’s Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux stating that there wasn’t scientific support for banning pit-bull-type dogs, Rottweilers and mixes of the two. By enacting its ban on pit bulls, Delta is bucking the trend and taking a giant step backward.

The bond between humans and their companion animals is a close one, and it acquires special significance and importance when it is between a person with a disability and his or her service animal, or between a person and his or her emotional support animal. Please weigh in on the federal rulemaking before the July 9th deadline to ensure that the skies stay friendly for our fellow citizens and their service and assistance animals. And if you live in a community with breed-specific legislation, download our advocacy toolkit on repealing such legislation.

Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Faith Hassan says:

    Delta Airline ,
    Please take into consideration that flying is stressful enough , nonetheless to have to leave our animals behind simply on account of one Airline banning certain breed all together is downright unfair it’s unfortunate that a dog its size and strength has gotten such a terrible reputation . Please understand as well that when any animal is confined and out of their element with such a noise level it has to endure , frightened and defensive is clearly an understatement . Many animals will react and defend themselves when put in a vulnerable position . Delta Airline – Please know that we love our animals and consider them very much familly .
    If you ban a certain breed from your airline , you will be forcing many people to boycott from flying your airline altogether . Myself included
    Thank you .

  2. Jenifer Reeves says:

    I have been attacked by numerous smaller breeds over my lifetime and have physical scars on my face, arms and legs. Every attack was unprovoked. I have yet to be attacked by a pitbull and we’ve rescued many of them. We’ve adopted 2 into our family. The rescued pitbull we have now is an emotional support for my Husband who has bipolar disorder. She is always there for him when his brain is off and depression sets in. With the proper training and temperament a pitbull can make THE BEST SERVICE/SUPPORT ANIMALS! They should not be discriminated against.

    • Soquili says:

      But you lived. A small dog bite requires and band aid. A pit bull mauling requires. life flight, trauma, plastic and ortho surgeons, ambulances. intensive care, funerals, caskets and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and life long disabilities. There is no comparison

      • Destiny says:

        But people make them into the monsters they appear to be. No dog is born with the intent to kill, and no dog should be blamed for what their owner has taught them. The Chihuahua is MUCH more aggressive then the Pit Bull (but that would be the owners fault for not properly training as well). All these sweet babies are gonna do (if they’re properly trained) is maybe jump on you. That’s it. No dog is born to maul or kill. And you have to remember WHY they exist. They were bred to “bite and hold bulls, bears and other large animals around the face and head” and then we stepped in “When baiting large animals was outlawed in the 1800s, people turned instead to fighting their dogs against each other.”

      • Pat says:

        I am with you 100%. Not only the physical damages or death to a person but the expenses incurred for medical treatment which some would be very enormous. I can’t imagine sitting in a plane with any big dog especially pits or rotties.

        • Nini M says:

          Not all Pit bulls are dangerous, just not all poodles are sweet and cuddly. All dogs have the ability to bite and cause harm to a living beings-to single out only pit pulls and big dogs is wrong. It sets the precedence that only these dogs are vicious and dangerous, and no other small dog can cause harm to humans.

  3. Kim Ansberry says:

    Can you guarantee the pit service dog sitting next to me won’t bite? If you can’t , then it shouldn’t be on a plane.

    • Pat Napolitano says:

      Can you guarantee that a child will not bite, kick, scream, or cause a disturbance? If you can’t, then they shouldn’t be on a plane.

      • Sandy Weinstein says:

        i totally agree with you and children are not confined like dogs.

      • Gini Barrett says:

        A child will not scalp you, rip your face off, sever an arm or a leg, tear off your ears – or in one case – tear out your tongue. The issue is not a little disturbance or minor injury, it is permanent maiming or possible death.

        • Nini M says:

          What makes you think that every pit will cause damage to humans. It’s not the breed. Discrimination against a breed is the same as discriminating against a race. I was chased by a pitbull as a child. as an adult, I started walking dogs at the local shelter. There I met so many pitbulls, some of them from absolute horrific situations. To see them seek out love and respond wholeheartedly to human kindness, completely changed my mind about them. Don’t let bad owners shape the way we perceive any breed of dog. Like children, Pitbulls are not born to be aggressive or dangerous, education throughout its upringing will mould any sentient into its character. a

    • Ellen Heyer says:

      If it would bite you, it wouldn’t be a service dog; as that would rule it out from being one.

    • Sandra says:

      A pitbull will lick you. Stop reading biased media. The dogs that do attack. Blame the human. And again any breed can but you will only hear of a pitbull.. But most of the time it’s not even a pitbull because all that looks like one gets put under pitbulls. I read a while ago a Labrador bit someone on a plane in the face was a service dog. So why isn’t labradors banned from flying in cabin. Why aren’t you scared of Labradors

    • Pat Gillespie says:

      Kim Ansberry. Amen. I guess Delta is trying to forget about the guy that was severely mauled on the plane. I hope they are paying dearly for that.

    • Ashton Mesick says:

      Can you guarantee the lab on the plane won’t attack me? If not he shouldn’t be on the plane

  4. Jean Blodgett says:

    Doggy Discrimination … just shows how ignorant your business strategy is. Do you know how many animal lovers are out there? I’ve NEVER met a mean pitbull and I’m 55 years old. Your new policy doesn’t affect me because I NEVER FLY YOUR AIRLINE, but I do believe your ignorance of the breed is appalling! You’re gonna lose business for this move. Too bad for your shareholders…

  5. John & Shirley Valney says:

    Every single pittie that we have met has been absolutely sweet and wonderful. These dogs have a very unfair bad reputation. People just need to have an open mind about this and stop being so harsh in their judgement of an entire breed.

  6. Jennifer woodfield says:

    I fly a lot with my pit bull type service dog. Never have i had a problem. On time in Pennsylvania a guys German Shepard growled at my dog. My dog did not respond and kept walking. I can not walk lobt distance without my dog and i have panic attacks. If i choose to fly Dela and they deny me access i will own Dela. I have never flown Dela before as i have always found it to be over priced for second rate service.

  7. Kristin says:

    If We’re discriminating a breed, then it’s refusing to help someone with disabilities that have a pitbull service dog. It’s not the breed, it’s a stressful event, flying on a plane. If we were to look, they’d be other breeds that have bitten before.

  8. Raleigh Koritz says:

    Hello, I am a Disabled Person. A Service Dog is Essential to One Who is Disabled and is in Need of Their Help. At this Time, I am Not Using a Service Dog But One Day May Have to so I Can Continue to Be a Functioning Person in Society. A Service Dog is a Highly Trained Dog to Do Specific Work For their Person. The Dog is Their Life Life! The selection of a Dog Who is to Be Trained For This Position Must Fit All Requirements. Many Dogs Don’t Make the Cut. A Service Dog is A Service Dog NO Matter What The Breed! There is Absolutely NO Reason That A Pit Bull Should Be Single Out or Any Bully Dogs! How a Dog Acts and Behaves is Taught By The Trainer! All Dogs Are Born As Voiceless, Helpless and Innocent Animals! It’s The Trainer Who Teaches Them How They Should Act! Delta is in the WRONG! This is Nothing But Pure Discrimination Against A Breed Which is Misunderstood and Blame For Acts That is The Fault of The Teacher! Didn’t Your Parents Teach You Not to Judge A Book By Its Cover?! Please Reconsider Your Position To Ban Pit Bull Service Dogs From Doing Their Jobs On Delta Airlines. Thank You For Your Immediate Attention to the Issue. I Truly Hope You Make The Correct Choice Regarding Service Dogs Flying On Delta.

  9. Mark Sherhag says:

    The vast majority of pit bull supporters won’t acknowledge blood sport traits and have no knowledge of selective/purpose breeding.

  10. Jan Marino says:

    “Overreacting to dog bites”??? Good one🙄

  11. CherylD says:

    Delta’s first responsibility is to keep their employees safe.
    It doesn’t matter which dog bites more but which dog causes the most damage when it bites.

    • Ellen Heyer says:

      Cheryl, you and many others here are missing the point. IN ORDER TO BE a SERVICE DOG, A dog is very well trained and temperament screened. A dog at risk for biting you would NOT BE A SD in the first place. That is the whole point.

      This policy is an oxymoron, if you will. BY default, a service dog cannot bite, or it would be ‘retired”.

      Emotional support Animals can fly, but only if they can BEHAVE like a service dog.

      • Karen says:

        That should be true and it used to be true. Now anyone with an internet connection can get their animal certified. It isn’t the same as a guide dog. Too bad really.

  12. michelle lesmond says:

    I have never ever met an animal that I have disliked,however I am unable to say the same about all humans.I adore all animals,all breeds.

  13. Michelle taylor says:

    I have never met an animal that I have disliked,however I am unable to say the same about all humans.I adore all animals and I am fed up with morons who discriminate against dog breeds.

  14. Judy says:

    There’s a difference between a service dog and a therapy dog. A therapy dog is a companion. Service dogs are trained for specific tasks, such as seeing eye dogs. Service dogs are certified. Therapy dogs are not. Any dog can be a therapy dog to the owner. Service dogs should be able to accompany the owner after showing proof of certification.

    • Gini Barrett says:

      You are confusing emotional support dogs and therapy dogs. Neither are service dogs, which you described correctly. A therapy dog is a very well socialized dog that IS CERTIFIED to visit people in various facilities to give them companionship and comfort. They have none of the privileges of service dogs. An emotional support dog is not trained and is not certified and provides companionship and comfort to an individual who has been diagnosed with certain mental health needs that and ESA can assist with. They do not have the privileges of service dogs under the ADA, but they are recognized in the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. Airlines can allow ESAs but can set policies about which type of animal and what requirements it must meet. Airlines are currently updating their policies to try to solve the problems ESAs have been causing.

  15. Lew Heifner says:

    August 2018, Philadelphia County, PA
    Jaevon “Doe”, 2
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2018, Duval County, FL
    Jaelah Smith, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2018, Broward County, FL
    Liana Valino, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2018, Blair County, PA
    Gauge Eckenrode, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2018, Harrison County, MS
    Georgia Morgan, 75
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2018, Milwaukee County, WI
    Hong Saengsamly, 49
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2018, Bexar County, TX
    Noah Trevino, 4
    Fatal pit bull attack

    February 2018, Daviess County, KY
    David Brown, 46
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2018, Stephens County, OK
    Rylee Marie Dodge, 3
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2018, Ouachita Parish, LA
    Laura Ray, 53
    Fatal pit bull attack

    December 2017, Stanislaus County, CA
    Deborah Onsurez, 56
    Fatal pack attack involving pit bull(s)

    December 2017, Bell County, KY
    Lorraine Saylor, 66
    Fatal pit bull attack

    December 2017, Goochland County, VA
    Bethany Stephens, 22
    Fatal pit bull attack

    December 2017, Cook County, IL
    Dorothy Ford, 77
    Fatal pit bull attack

    December 2017, Jackson County, AL
    Emily Mae Colvin, 24
    Fatal pit bull attack

    November 2017, Marshall County, AL
    Tracy Cornelius, 46
    Fatal pack attack involving pit bull(s)

    November 2017, Richmond County, NC
    David Baber, 65
    Fatal pit bull attack

    October 2017, Johnson County, AR
    Sharon Lindemann, 75
    Fatal pit bull attack – Pending

    October 2017, Middlesex County, MA
    Javien Candelario, 7
    Fatal pit bull attack

    September 2017, Gilmer County, GA
    Kathy Sue Nichelson, 61
    Fatal pit bull attack

    September 2017, Knox County, OH
    Barrett Hagans, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    September 2017, Neshoba County, MS
    Connie Storey, 61
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2017, Palm Beach County, FL
    Grace Walks, 41-years old
    Fatal attack involving pit bull

    August 2017, Calhound County, FL
    Alicia Malagon, 76
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2017, Hart County, GA
    Paris Adams, 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2017, El Paso County, TX
    Jacob Brooks, 4
    Fatal pack attack involving pit bull(s)

    July 2017, Seneca County, OH
    Michael Parks, 60
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2017, McCreary County, KY
    Vinson Tucker, 79
    Fatal pit bull attack

    June 2017, Gallatin County, MT
    Melissa Barnes, 65
    Fatal pit bull attack

    June 2017, Virginia Beach, VA
    Margaret Colvin, 90
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2017, Kent County, MI
    Susannah Murray, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2017, Clark County, NV
    Kamiko Dao Tsuda-Saelee, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    April 2017, Lehigh County, PA
    Lisa Green, 32
    Fatal pit bull attack

    April 2017, Montgomery County, OH
    Maurice Brown, 60
    Fatal pit bull attack

    April 2017, Oklahoma County, OK
    Cecille Short, 82
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2017, Calvert County, MD
    Jase Patrick Fohs, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    February 2017, Los Angeles County, CA
    Valentine Herrera, 76
    Fatal pit bull attack

    February 2017, Adams County, IL
    Jamie Owsley, 21
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2017, Fulton County, GA
    Logan Braatz, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack

    December 2016, Cabell County, WV
    Isaiah Franklin, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack

    October 2016, Staten Island, NY
    Daisie Bradshaw, 68
    Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s)

    September 2016, Shawnee County, KS
    Piper Dunbar, 2
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2016, Jefferson County, CO
    Susan Shawl, 60
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2016, Clark County, NV
    Derion Stevenson, 9
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2016, Screven County, GA
    Michelle Wilcox, 30
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2016, Honolulu County, HI
    Crisencio Aliado, 52
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2016, Navajo County, AZ
    Kayden Begay, 3
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2016, Wayne County, MI
    Elizabeth Rivera, 71
    Fatal pit bull attack

    June 2016, Fresno County, CA
    Susie Kirby, < 1
    Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s)

    June 2016, Penobscot County, ME
    Hunter Bragg, 7
    Fatal pit bull attack

    June 2016, San Joaquin County, CA
    Earl Stephens Jr., 43
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2016, Dallas County, TX
    Antoinette Brown, 52
    Fatal pack attack involving pit bull(s)

    May 2016, St. Louis County, MO
    Adonis Reddick, 45
    Fatal pit bull attack

    April 2016, San Diego County, CA
    Sebastian Caban, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2016, Lake County, FL
    Sonda Tyson, 66
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2016, Mecklenburg County, NC
    Bessie Flowers, 86
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2016, Thurston County, WA
    Gladys Alexander, 92
    Fatal pack attack involving pit bull(s)

    Februrary 2016, Perquimans County, NC
    Suzanne Story, 36
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2016, Robeson County, NC
    Talan West, 7
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2016, Grayson County, VA
    Payton Sawyers, 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2016, Yuba County, CA
    Tyler Trammell-Huston, 9
    Fatal pit bull attack

    December 2015, Butte County, CA
    Maria Torres, 57
    Fatal pit bull attack

    December 2015, St. Clair County, MI
    Rebecca Hardy, 22
    Fatal pit bull attack

    December 2015, Wayne County, MI
    Xavier Strickland, 4
    Fatal pit bull attack

    November 2015, Oneida County, NY
    Carter Hartle, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    November 2015, Nassau County, NY
    Amiyah Dunston, 9
    Fatal pit bull attack

    October 2015, Oklahoma County, OK
    Edgar Brown, 60
    Fatal pit bull attack

    October 2015, Orange County, TX
    Tanner Smith, 5
    Fatal pit bull attack

    September 2015, Berkeley County, WV
    Lamarkus Hicks, 2
    Fatal pit bull attack

    September 2015, Riverside County, CA
    Emilio Rios Sr., 65
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2015, Davie County, NC
    Cathy Wheatcraft, 48
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2015, Spartanburg County, SC
    Porsche Nicole Cartee, 25
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2015, Wagoner County, OK
    Carolyn Lamp, 67
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2015, Cuyahoga County, OH
    Annie Williams, 71
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2015, Henderson County, NC
    Joshua Strother, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2015, Reeves County, TX
    Norberto Legarda, 83
    Fatal pit bull attack

    June 2015, Comanche County, OK
    Jordan Collins-Tyson, 3
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2015, Cook County, IL
    James Nevils III, 5
    Fatal pit bull attack

    April 2015, Dallas County, TX
    Brayden Wilson, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    April 2015, Nye County, NV
    Kenneth Ford, 79
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2015, Jefferson County, AR
    De'trick Johnson, 36
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2015, Mellette County, SD
    Julia Whirlwind, 49
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2015, Ohio County, WV
    Roy Higgenbotham Jr., 62
    Fatal pit bull attack

    February 2015, Allegheny County, PA
    TayLynn DeVaughn, 2
    Fatal pit bull attack

    February 2015, Johnson County, AR
    Frederick Crutchfield, 63
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2015, Page County, IA
    Malaki Mildward, 7
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2015, Hernando County, FL
    Declan Moss, 18-months
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2015, Frederick County, MD
    Eugene Smith, 87
    Fatal pit bull attack

    • Sandra says:

      And if you were little smarter, you would have known that. Allllllll animals looking like a pitbull.. Meaning most aren’t. Only the pitbull get blamed for all that may look like him. Most don’t even recognize the difference between breeds and who gets the blame the pitbull.

    • A says:

      Nice job cherrypicking incidents to fit your false narrative. If you did some more research, I suspect that most if not all of those dogs had poor training and bad owners. Dogs will become aggressive for various reasons. Certain dogs also have different physical and muscular strengths than others. You cannot blame the dog for having a biologically stronger bite than another. People really need to get lies out of their head and stop being brainwashed.

  16. Nancy says:

    All dogs bite. I had a pitbull terrier that I raised with my youngest son. He never once bit at our son or anyone that we had there at the house. Good family dog and good for protection. Dogs only do what they have been trained to do. There are things that go on that are illegal as heck like dog fights. Even though illegal it still happens. Using restraints with dogs that are known for biting. Dog pen,chain and dog house. Posting signs.Dog owner needs to post signs. “Dog will bite.” Kids need to stay out of places they do not belong. Owners feed your dogs on a regular basis. It makes them mean when you don’t. They think they have to fight for their food with other dogs around. Owners need to respect and treat their pets with care and not mistreat them. If you can not feed or water them give them to an animal shelter. They can find good caring folks that would love to habe your pet. There are no kill shelters around…

  17. mike barnes says:

    Why cant you accept that breeds are different.. some more dangerous… instead you anthropomorphize dogs and apply human rights.. which is crazy..

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