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Dog Days for Delta After Refusing to Transport Epileptic Toddler’s Support Dog

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Seizure alert trained service dog Daisy.
Daisy (Photo courtesy of Help A Dog Out Rescue)

Delta’s enforcement of its service dog rules is hounding the airline.

Two-year-old Mila Lhautara of California was born with hydrocephalus — a buildup of fluid in brain cavities. And not long ago, she was diagnosed with epilepsy.

“She doesn’t have seizures where she shakes and it’s noticeable,” Mila’s mom, Christin Lhautara told Fox 10. “Her seizures are silent. Her seizures don’t break unless she’s given medication. There [sic] no telling what can happen.”

That sounds terrifying.

Enter Mesa, Arizona’s Help A Dog Out Rescue, who says they teamed up with two other rescues to find Daisy, a seizure alert trained dog.

“(Daisy) is going to provide an extra layer of protection for my daughter,” Christin Lhautara said to Fox 10.

You’ll notice that Help a Dog Out Rescue added “Pittie” and “Pitty” — a nickname for the pit bull dog breed. That’ll come into play in a few minutes.

No Delta for Daisy

Last week, rescue agency rep Kim Biggerstaff contacted Delta to arrange a flight for Daisy (presumably with Ms. Biggerstaff) to California.

Delta said no, enforcing their rules about flying with service or support animals:

“(W)e are do not [sic] accept pit bull type dogs as service or support animals.”

The rule was announced last year, “on the heels of a number of incidents regarding defecation and urination by animals on Delta planes, and complaints by Delta flight attendants of being bitten by pit bulls,” wrote Business Insider’s Brian Pascus.

Ms. Biggerstaff told Fox 10:

“I said that’s discrimination, that’s illegal. They said no, we have lawyers on standby. We wouldn’t do this if there were any legal issues that could arouse. I said that’s unfair. This is an actual, trained service dog. Thousands of dollars went into this dog in training and time and energy, and this dog has been working in her field for three years, (n)ever had an issue.”

Christin Lhautara said on Facebook:


Fox 5 reports Help a Dog Out Rescue — who originally posted the dog is a “pittie” — says Daisy is a Boxer/bulldog mix.

So — which breed is Daisy? A pit bull? Or a Boxer/bulldog mix?

Here’s What the Rescue Told Me

I chatted on Facebook last night with a rep from Help A Dog Out Rescue.

The organization is primarily a pit bull rescue. It seems the “Daisy (Pittie)” and “Pitty” wording was a force of habit. The dog’s transporter purportedly also made the same mistake — accidentally telling the Delta rep Daisy is a pit bull before correcting herself.

And “(Delta) wouldn’t allow the correction, despite supporting documents,” the Help A Dog rep told me and stated, “she happens to be a bulldog/boxer.”

Daisy WILL Fly to California On…

Mila will finally get her dog later this month — when Daisy arrives on a Southwest Airlines flight.

Should Delta Allow Certified Service Pit Bulls On Board?

What do you think about this situation?

And should Delta allow pit bulls who are actual, certified service animals on board with their handlers? I’m not talking about the dogs whose owners spend five bucks on a fake “service dog” vest off Ebay just to sneak their pet on board. (You’ve seen ’em and know exactly what I’m saying.)

I mean trained service dogs who are vital to their handler’s lives and help them function.

Please share your thoughts in the Comment section below.

–Chris

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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16 Comments

  1. Sam Smith

    It is Delta’s choice. There was an alternative so why make a beg deal out of it.

  2. @Sam Smith: Not trying to stir up trouble at all. I’m wondering if readers think Delta should rethink their pit bull policy when it comes to certified service animals.

  3. We the pit bulls in the incidents in the past actual trained service dogs like this one or were they freeloaders with an internet vest. I doubt a professionally trained service dog was biting, peeing or pooping on the plane.
    Maybe Delta can decide that a certain brands of walking cane won’t be allowed because a pimp got mad tripped a flight attendant with one back in 1978.

  4. Service animals accompanying the person that they are required to assist should be allowed. In this case the dog was not travel with the person in need and therefore Delta should have the option of whether to transport the animal or not. There are other options and in this case, it is spun into a news story that seems a bit of a created crisis.

  5. Delta should stick to its policy. There are other airlines.

  6. I agree with Sam. What’s the big deal when there are alternatives. Don’t like Deltas policy, fly a different airline or take a bus or train.

  7. Private Airline, they can choose who flies based upon criteria that they establish. It is then a judgment call at the point of departure taking in all the facts of the situation and policy set forth. There were discrepancies in the paperwork and the choice of words used both in social media and in statement. We have all seen people try to slide things by… Was that attempted here? Maybe or maybe not.

    Bottom line, make an informed decision before buying the ticket. Obviously, Southwest has a more liberal policy as it relates to Service Animals. As an organization, perhaps the better choice for these situations.

  8. I don’t blame Delta as it has cost them tons of $$$$ in the past when passengers have been bitten!Why won’t anyone want to train a Pitbull dog for a 2. Year old crazy. Read the papers daily about attacks! A high risk for Delta and lawsuits.

  9. It’s not the breed, it’s the training and disposition of the dog. I know of incredibly well behaved pit bulls who are absolutely ok to fly. And I know b***h from hell lab mixes.

    The question I have is WHO certified this dog. A genuine certification is very difficult to come by.

  10. Ruth Johnson

    I don’t want to sit next to an uncaged dog on an airplane, no matter what.

    I’ve already told my husband that I would take a different flight rather than sit next to a large dog, if it came to that. I don’t trust them on airplanes enough to be that close.

    So far, I haven’t had to make this choice, and I appreciate Delta’s policy to help keep their passengers safe.

  11. When the system is so easily gamed, there’s something wrong with the system,

    The lady in the story, instead of blaming Delta, should blame every single person who used some fake certificate to get dogs, ponies, turkeys, snakes, peacocks, and the rest of the menagerie onboard.

    I’m not interested in flying on Noah’s Ark.

  12. Jack Thompson

    Get a golden retriever or the like as a service dog. No matter how nice and sweet a dog is (just like with people) genetics will always supersede and come into play. A dangerous breed of dog should never be a service dog. 100-400 passengers depending on the plane don’t have to be put in danger because of one person’s birth defect.

  13. lynn sugarman

    Why not train the dog to accept a muzzle for the flight? Problem solved.

  14. Thank you Delta for having the courage to take a stand on these types of dogs. Hopefully, other large, potentially dangerous breeds will be added to the DNF list. With all of the abuse of the “Comfort animal” provision, they should all be banned from the cabin. Allow only certified “Service” animals who meet the Delta standard into the cabin. I must go now and feed my “Comfort” skunk (not de-scented)! Maybe I’ll book a flight with him later!

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  16. The parents are a far better source of help for this child than any animal.

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