Delta Airlines has announced that it will “limit each passenger to one emotional support animal and will no longer accept pit bull type dogs as service or support animals.” This will come into effect on July 10 as part of updating the airline's service and support animal policy.

“These updates, which come as the peak summer travel season is underway, are the direct result of growing safety concerns following recent incidents in which several employees were bitten,” Delta said in a statement on Wednesday. “The new requirements support Delta's top priority of ensuring safety for its customers and employees, while supporting the rights of customers with legitimate needs, such as disabled veterans, to travel with trained service and support animals."

Delta added that since 2016, there has been an 84 percent increase in reported incidents involving service and support animals including urination/defecation and biting.

According to the statement, “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.”

According to the Department of Transportation, “Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) a service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability; or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support.  Documentation may be required of passengers needing to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal.”

delta Delta airplanes line up on the taxi way after Delta Air Lines' computer systems crashed, grounding flights around the globe, at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, August 8, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Tami Chappell

The decision to ban “pit bull type” dogs have caused outrage among some dog lovers.

“Delta really? Shame! Pitbull isn’t a breed. The problem isn’t the dogs. It’s people using the term ‘service animal’ for dogs that aren’t. A real service animal, is trained to be exceptionally well behaved & provide an actual valuable service,” TV host Daisy Fuentes tweeted.

“Hey Delta is there any particular reason why you banned pit bull service dogs or are you just categorizing an animal based on a stereotype? Sounds like someone else I know,” Liz Trotter, an animal lover, tweeted.

“Limiting emotional support animals is understandable. Banning pit bull *service dogs* (which means the dog is trained & certified to provide a specific service for a person with a condition or disability) is not. Extremely disappointing,” Bronwen Dickey, another animal lover tweeted.

In 2017, a Delta passenger was mauled by a “70-pound” emotional support dog during a flight journey to San Diego, California. He suffered facial wounds requiring 28 stitches. 

“It is troubling that an airline would allow a dog of such substantial size to ride in a passenger’s lap without a muzzle,” attorney J. Ross Massey had said in a statement after the incident. “Especially considering the dog and its owner were assigned a middle seat despite Delta Air Lines’ policies that call for the re-accommodation of larger animals."

“We expect airlines to follow procedures as required and verify any dogs travelling unrestrained in open cabin are trained for handling the large crowds and enclosed environments encountered on board an airplane,” he said, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.