Delta Airlines has sparked outrage from one family and a pet rescue agency after it refused to allow a service dog onto a plane. The service dog was to be flown to a two-year-old suffering from seizures.
Kim Biggerstaff, with Help A Dog Out Rescue in Mesa, Arizona, was set to fly a dog named Daisy to a new family in Calif., after her previous owner became too ill to care for her. However, while trying to reserve a flight through Delta, Biggerstaff was informed Daisy would not be allowed to board, despite being a service animal.
"This dog is a miracle for us," Christin Lhautara, mother of two-year-old Mila, told FOX 10 Phoenix.
Mila was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the cavities in the brain, and was recently diagnosed with epilepsy.
"[Daisy] is going to provide an extra layer of protection for my daughter," said Christin. "She doesn't have seizures where she shakes and it's noticeable. Her seizures are silent. Her seizures don't break unless she's given medication. There’s no telling what can happen."
Christin worries that her daughter will experience a seizure in the night, and she would not be aware of it. Mila has difficulty breathing during these seizures, and having Daisy around would help to alleviate Christin’s fears.
"If she's a pit bull breed, we can't fly it because they had an ESA [emotional support animal] dog maul a stewardess," Biggerstaff told the station. The incident resulted in Delta updating their ESA policies in 2018.
However, according to Help A Dog Out Rescue, Daisy is not a pit bull; she is a boxer/bulldog mix.
"I said that's discrimination. That's illegal," Biggerstaff told the outlet. "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, never had an issue.’"
While Delta did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment, they provided the following statement to FOX 10: "In 2018, Delta tightened its policies on Emotional Support Animals by requiring a ‘confirmation of animal training’ form, as well as other official documentation. The airline also banned pit bulls and animals under four months of age as service or support animals."
Biggerstaff will now accompany Daisy on a Southwest Airlines flight to California.
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