I’ve flown almost 5 million miles on Delta, and this week I sent a letter to them protesting their ban on service dogs they say are “pit bulls.” This ban is not based in science and it puts an unfair burden on people with disabilities. I strongly oppose this policy and hope Delta will reconsider it.
I’m in the top 1% of Delta flyers in miles traveled per year. I’m at your highest level, Diamond Medallion, and have flown almost 5 million miles on Delta.
I was the resident veterinarian on Good Morning America for 17 years, and am the only veterinary member of Core Team Oz on the Dr. Oz Show. I’m the author of 25 books including three New York Times bestsellers, and I write a weekly syndicated pet feature. I’ve also been the proud parent of pit bulls, and along with almost all veterinarians, love to see them as patients.
And I’m deeply disappointed to learn that you’ve chosen to ban legitimate service dogs simply because of myths and prejudices about the way they look.
Along with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), I know that there’s no scientific basis for this policy, and that:
- Statistically, breed “is not predictive of the risk of aggressive behavior.” Instead, the AVMA says, dogs should be evaluated individually.
- Breed identification based on looks is notoriously inaccurate. Study after study shows that even veterinarians and shelter workers have a terrible success rate at identifying breed in dogs based on their appearance. Behavior should be evaluated individually, not on how a dog looks.
- Dogs usually bite because they’re afraid, not because of breed. Owner behavior and how the dog is housed are also important triggers of aggressive behavior.
- Areas that impose breed bans don’t see a decrease in dog bites or dog aggression as a result. In fact, many communities have seen an increase in these incidents, and have subsequently repealed the bans.
Please reconsider this policy. People with disabilities have the legal right to access for themselves and their trained service dogs, and you have no right to let foundationless prejudice based on a dog’s looks override that right.
Dr. Marty Becker