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25 thoughts on “The Friendly Skies Fade After a Delta Passenger is Severely Attacked by an Unrestrained 'Emotional Support Dog'

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  1. Dogs do not belong on any form of public transportation. Not everyone likes dogs and wants a dog near them when they're trying to ride a plane or bus. Pits especially should never be allowed on any public transportation. With all of the people, noises, and actions that could trigger an attack, I'd be petrified to even breathe.

  2. Great piece of investigative journalism! I'd also be interested in seeing an even broader piece including any information on issues with dogs on public transportation, fake service dogs that have attacked other animals or people, legal battles over ESAs or service dogs having public access or housing access, and so forth. I stumble across articles here and there, like the fairly recent one about the guy who wanted to hold his pit bull on his lap on a bus or trolley (I think it was in San Francisco). There was a big brouhaha when he was denied access. That's why no one at Delta spoke up about the pit bull (oh, I'm sorry–lab mix) in the news story at the heart of this posting: people don't know the laws and are afraid to be seen as discriminatory. Who's going to question a service member in the military about his supposed service dog? Or a college student claiming mental illness and the need for an ESA?

    On the other hand, people are getting sick of the fraud and more are speaking up. In some cases, that's unfortunate, especially as real service dogs that were previously just quietly doing their jobs and very unobtrusive now have a negative spotlight shone on them. There are scores of YouTube videos posted by legitimate service dog handlers complaining about questioning and poor treatment related to their service dogs. Dishonest people are now causing issues for people with major disabilities who already have enough to deal with. It's sickening!

    And as usual, the pit pushers are right in the middle of the mess (or anything dramatic or negative related to dogs) with their rescue-dogs-turned-PTSD-service-dogs they're foisting off on military veterans, with their supposed ESAs getting around the rules against pits, with pit bull service/ESA/therapy dogs of all stripes trying to redeem the breed's reputation (oh, wait, it's not a breed). And yet plenty of them are doing the damage that pits do everywhere they go, like the one that just ran into someone else's apartment and killed a cat.

  3. That's no lab. The appearance, even though obscured by sunglasses, is clearly pit bull – and the attack behavior confirms it.

    It's time to get tough on fraud, begin holding pit owners strictly accountable for all harm done, and take preemptive measures to avoid such attacks.

    • I’ve never seen a chocolate lab in that shade of mousy brown. That color is prevalent in pits.

  4. So, all I have to do is take an online quiz? Great! Because I really need a hug. That's why I'm getting a boa constrictor for emotional support.

  5. The real guilty party for all this is in Washington DC

    The airlines have also been at the mercy of special interests in federal government positions who force laws on all of us that hurt us

    It is unfortunate that some extremists, including some linked to the pit bull lobby, pushed these laws for accomodation of the shady ""emotional support dogs" while wielding power in the Obama administration Justice department.

    These were unelected officials with the capacity to make laws without the input of anyone else, and forced them down our throats

    The victim's lawyer, it is understandable, is going after those who have the money to pay out a settlement- the airline

    But it was the US GOVERNMENT who forced this on the airlines, restaurant owners, etc. The Justice Department sued anyone who even questioned these dogs, and the Federal government can destroy you.

    Until we investigate the role that government officials and employees play in these canine problems, we'll never solve them. Special interests have special power to sway those who regulate and make laws.

  6. Great article! This issue is becoming a serious problem for other service industries as well. I have a friend that owns a restaurant in the small town I live near. Last week a customer came in with a very large boxer constrained with a piece of rope. When they told him he couldn't bring the dog in the restaurant, the customer pulled out a card saying the dog was an official service dog. I'm not sure exactly what the card said, but it looked legitimate enough that they felt compelled to allow this large, rather unruly dog into their restaurant. This restaurant is small. Two tables of customers left without ordering. Everyone else was upset about the presence of the dog who did not lie quietly under or next to his owner's chair during the meal, but stood and pulled on the hank of rope so that the owner had to speak to it repeatedly.
    Fortunately, the dog owner ate and eventually left without further incident. But the restaurant owner was left with a lot of questions. The most important one was: What if the dog bit someone? Would the restaurant be held liable for following the law as they understood it? The restaurant owner didn't want the dog there. Other customers were denied a pleasant dining experience because of its presence. And, in my point of view, they were put in danger while simply trying to enjoy a meal out. This dog was obviously not a legitimate, trained service dog, but no one wants to call out someone who may have a disability that isn't obvious, or deny someone with special needs the right to dine at a restaurant. It's a bad and dangerous place that these players are forcing us all into. There are places that a person should be able to go (a plane, a restaurant, a store, for instance) where we shouldn't have to deal with the presence of large untrained dogs. Real service dogs are getting a "bad rap" because of this. We fostered service puppies for a while. They were always labs or goldens. And not all of them were suitable for service. Some of them washed out and just became good pets.
    I don't have any solutions for this. I'm just starting to get really pissed that there's nowhere you can go to get away from idiots shoving their dogs in your face and rubbing your nose in it. And pretending to have a legal right to do so.

  7. Landlords, restaurant owners, and other businesses have been sued or fined by the US Government for even QUESTIONING these emotional support dogs' statuses.

    And true enough, Mundy's dog was NO lab. It is a pit bull which means he lied about the dogs breed

    The dog owner should be first in line for getting sued, and facing criminal charges for letting his dog attack. It seems like he is escaping responsibility because the lawyer is going after the deep pockets of the airline

  8. The websites that sell these fake emotional support dog certificates are bad

    but doctors have their percentage of bad players too. Some doctors were just busted for running an opiod prescription ring. They would not hesitate to take money for these certificates!

    The bottom line here is that emotional support dogs are just pets! They are not any kind of service dog and not required by any one person more than another.

  9. How can the dog owner be active duty if he's so mentally ill he can't go outside without his fur fix?

  10. This is beyond all bounds. It appears the dog was a pit bull as well and it was being passed of as a mix. I know about two years ago I was concerned when a woman boarded my flight, not sitting near me, with a dog. They do not belong on planes or even on streets. I wonder how Delta could gratuitously kennel the THING and still transport it. It did NOT belong on the plane and it should have been sequestered by police and then destroyed.

  11. What part of Honor, Courage, and Commitment doesn't this pit bull owner understand? I have doubts about whether he is a Marine at all.

  12. I hate stories like this because the bad dogs and bad owners (fakers) are ruining it for everyone else.

    The people who use real service dogs(e.g. seizure alert dogs and diabetic alert dogs) and who truly need them, will find it harder to get acceptance for their dogs if incidents of aggression from fake service animals / ESAs keep occurring.

    The animal pictured does not look like a lab – it appears to be a pit mix to me.

  13. I think special passports should be issued for service dogs with "service dog" clearly noted in the passport along with the service the dog performs (so embarrassing questions about the handlers disability can be avoided as the security personnel can just discretely read it from the passport).

    They should be issued with some security features (similar to a human passport – e.g holograms / watermarks) so they cannot be easily faked, plus come with a chip so they can be scanned in (and a photo of the dog show up). They should also have the handlers details in the front (like a normal pet passport) so that only the handler the dog is registered to can travel with it.

    If only service animals were allowed to travel on public transport (sorry ESA owners) then these kind of attacks could be avoided.

  14. These issues may be reaching a tipping point, and big decisions may be made soon on service dog standards, registries, breed choices, definitions, laws, penalties, etc. The ADI has made a good start in establishing standards for PTSD service dogs.

    Personally, I really question the wisdom of using fighting breeds as service dogs for multiple reasons. Some service dogs are specifically bred for their tasks (labs and goldens, usually). I even read a study that certain genes have been discovered in some labs indicating they're more food-motivated than others, which enhances their trainability as service dogs. Also, service dogs must be absolutely bomb-proof and non-reactive. Pits tend to be more high-strung and reactive. Look at the news stories right now of the pit mix supposed PTSD service dog for a veteran that ran away because of the fireworks. In addition to the pit bull service dogs that have attacked other animals or people, I've also read stories about them being stolen. There is also a stigma attached to them, and they're more likely to be questioned as service dogs. A person with a disability doesn't need any additional obstacles. Sadly, even some service dog handlers with small-breed dogs have had their legitimacy questioned, but at least they're not capable of serious harm.

    At least one organization training dogs for veterans specifically states they will not use pit bulls, rottweilers, or dobermans–simply because of the public perception since these dogs are trained to get the person out of unsafe situations. Presumably, having a perceived dangerous dog breed would create more unsafe situations or issues for the veteran:

  15. The fact is that the ADA law as it now stands is a disaster. I recommend the following changes. Number 6 alone would end most pit bull 'servus dawgz':
    1) A dog which as an individual has a history of aggression, including but not limited to killing, mauling, biting, nipping, lunging, growling, food aggression, dog aggression or other animal aggression shall NOT be eligible for use as a service dog.
    2) A dog which according to its BREED STANDARD has been BRED for aggression, including but not limited to the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog, preso canario, Dogo Argentino, Cuban bloodhound, and any other pure bred or mixed breed dog that is a combination of these dogs; shall NOT be eligible for use as a service dog.
    3) A dog which according to its BREED STANDARD has been BRED to be disliking or distrustful of strangers, including but not limited to the Akita, Chow, Caucasian Mountain Dog, Cane Corso, and any other pure bred or mixed breed dog that is a combination of these dogs; shall NOT be eligible for use as a service dog.
    4) A dog which as an individual has a history of disliking, distrusting, or being aggressive towards strangers shall NOT be eligible for use as a service dog.
    5) Any dog which is in current use as a service dog which exhibits ANY of the above behaviors shall NOT be eligible to continue as a service dog.
    6) Any dog which is not spayed or neutered shall not be eligible for use as a service dog.
    7) The MINIMUM penalty for the death of a human by a service dog shall be not be LESS than half a million dollar fine and not LESS than five years in jail. The dog shall be euthanized.
    8) The MINIMUM penalty for the severe injury of a human by a service dog shall not be LESS than half a million dollar fine and three years in jail. The dog shall be euthanized.
    9) The MINIMUM penalty for the death of another animal by a service dog shall not be LESS than one hundred thousand dollar fine and a year in jail. The dog shall be euthanized.
    10) The MINIMUM penalty for the severe injury of another animal by a service dog shall not be LESS than a fine of one hundred thousand dollars. The dog shall be euthanized.

  16. The service dog laws should have stayed the way they were, with Guide dogs for the Blind being the only REAL service dogs. Service dogs should ONLY be used for physical disabilities, and anything other than a Guide dog should have to be approved on a case by case basis. We have drugs and therapies for emotional and mental conditions, including the PROVEN effective Emotional Freedom Technique for PTSD.

  17. Should be awarded $1,000,000 for this. After that all airlines will probably have new rules

  18. If the owner is an active duty Marine, as indicated, then he does not have, nor does he need, an emotional support animal. If he qualified for such an animal, he would be discharged from active duty.

  19. This drives me crazy. Bad enough that we can barely take our non-pit, "half lab" (horsesh$t) dogs out w/o an encounter with a pit bull, but now we can't schedule a flight without running encountering someone faking a service dog. Grrr.

  20. That dog is obviously a pit mix. I cannot for the life of me understand why Delta did not require a muzzle for any unrestrained dog in the cabin. I wouldn’t want to be bit by a toy dog on a flight, let alone a fifty pound dog on someone’s lap. Why didn’t they require a dog that size to have its own seat?!

  21. Excellent article – detailed, well written and well edited.

    I've long wondered if passengers can be forced to sit next to any service or support animal? What if they have allergies or perhaps fear the animal? Are the airlines required to accommodate relocate such passengers – or relocate the passenger with the support animal which would be fairer?

    As a former FA from the 1980's,I can tell you that if the flight is full you're not going to find anyone to volunteer to switch seats in such a scenario. EG,this reminds me of the smoking issues we had…Sometimes a passenger would not want to sit in the row directly in the front of the last smoking row. We'd try to find a willing passenger to switch seats but usually none were willing. Then it was just "too bad"for the non-smoker, even if they had allergies or were traveling with children.

    Would the airline rule you quoted that the animal cannot interfere with fellow passengers apply?

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