ESA Weekly News Report June 4th: Delta Airlines ESA Lawsuit & Illinois College Tightens ESA Policy

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French Bulldog reading a newspaper

This has been a busy week for emotional support animal (ESA) news in the United States. Today, we are covering two pieces. The first is about a lawsuit that has been filed against Delta Air Lines by a passenger allegedly attacked by an ESA. The second covers the changing ESA policy of Knox College, a university in Illinois.

Delta Air Lines Emotional Support Animal Lawsuit

Back in June 2017, Marlin Jackson was aboard a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco operated by Delta Air Lines. According to him and onlookers, an emotional support dog pinned him to a window and attacked his face. As a result, Jackson required twenty-eight stitches.

Now, almost two years later, the man is suing Delta Air Lines for failing to ensure its passenger’s safety. The lawsuit reads that the air carrier “took no action to verify or document the behavioral training” of the dog. The ESA’s owner, an American veteran, is also facing legal charges for not training his ESA.

Delta Air Lines did not issue any comments about the ongoing legal situation. However, they did comment that after this incident, they have changed their ESA policy. Effectively, Delta has banned pit bulls from all its flights and ESAs younger than four months of age.

The outcome of the lawsuit is still uncertain. We will keep you updated in a future ESA Weekly News Report feature.


emotional support dog looking at something

Knox College Tightens Its ESA Policy

University students who own ESAs at Knox College, Illinois, feel “frustrated” at the recent changes in the school’s ESA policy. According to The Knox Student organization, ESAs are being banned from public spaces owned by the university.

The Director of the Disability Services at Knox College, Stephanie Grimes, sent out an email to ESA owners. In it, Grimes outlines the changes made to the ESA policy of the school. One of the new rules that stands out is that ESAs “must stay within the assigned room at all times.”

This action came forward after the university received complaints about the behavior of some ESAs and their owners. Allegedly, some emotional support dogs were being let run loose in the food halls. There were also complaints that they were acting recklessly around students and staff.

It didn’t take long for the students of Knox College to voice their feelings. They were quick to point out that not allowing emotional support dogs outside the dorm room could have adverse effects on the animals. They also told the student union they felt “unwelcomed” and “frustrated” at their own school.


sad emotional support animal making puppy eyes

CertaPet’s Thoughts on This Week’s News

Pitbulls have a bad enough reputation as it is, and this incident did not help the prejudice which the breed is already exposed to. A scared dog is a dangerous dog, and this has nothing to do with what breed they are.

We hate seeing anyone getting hurt by animals, especially ESAs. ESAs do not legally require any specific training, but, we cannot stress this enough: If you want to take your ESA out in public, make sure that they are well socialized and trained in basic obedience. An ESA owner is 100% responsible for their animal, and must be held accountable for their actions! It’s also important to remember that if an animal ever acts aggressively, they cannot be considered an ESA and their ESA status will be voided.

Luckily, Delta Air Lines still recognizes the need of people with a mental disability to have their ESA by their side. You can still take (most) emotional support animals aboard a plane with you. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) grants you this right.

CertaPet is saddened to hear about Knox College’s change in ESA policy, however, we understand it. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) gives ESA owners the right to live with their four-legged companion. Yet, no law says they must be welcomed in public places — including those on campus.

Our hope is that the students and the board of directors can sit down to discuss the changed ESA policy. Both sides must hear the other’s complaints. Ideally, ESAs and everyone at the university can coexist orderly. But one thing is certain: Knox College can’t ban ESAs altogether! Again we must stress that an ESA’s wellbeing is the sole responsibility of any ESA owner. Your ESA is welcome in pet-friendly zones, so if you can’t take them for walkies on campus, take them somewhere they’re welcomed and can run around without upsetting people who don’t necessarily want to be around animals.

Getting your emotional support today is very easy if you have a mental illness. Start out by taking our free, 5-minute pre-screening and we will take over from there! You may even be holding your new ESA in a matter of days.

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