According to a recent lawsuit, a pit bull whose owner claimed it was an “emotional support dog” allegedly bit a five-year-old girl’s face inside an airport terminal in Washington State. A detailed article on the incident is available here.
The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, claims that the dog bit the girl on the face when she attempted to pet the animal. The incident took place at an Alaska Airlines terminal inside Portland International Airport as the young girl, her mother, and older brother waited to board a flight to Texas.
According to a local news source, the dog spent ten days in quarantine at a local animal shelter following the incident. The dog’s owner received a police citation for failing to crate the animal. The attorney intends to investigate if the dog in question is a legitimate emotional support animal, as the owner claims.
The girl’s mother has filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against the dog’s owner, Alaska Airlines, and the Port of Portland, the municipal agency which oversees the airport. The suit accuses all three parties of negligence, as the animal was not in a crate at the time of the alleged attack. Bite wounds severed the girl’s tear duct and disfigured her upper lip, leaving her with permanent scars.
The family’s attorney hopes the case will lead to stricter enforcement on the part of airlines and airports regarding emotional support animals, suggesting that service animals and emotional support animals be kept away from other passengers as much as possible.
Alaska Airlines changed its policy on emotional support animals in 2018 by limiting the animals allowed on board to dogs and cats, and requiring the animals to be crated or leashed at all times. The airline also requires passengers to provide 48 hours’ notice and supply appropriate supporting documents before their flights.
United and Delta also announced recent policy changes after a large increase in the number of passengers flying with emotional support animals. The United States Department of Transportation has also recently reviewed policies regarding service and support animals, though it has yet to issue a ruling.
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