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Airlines

Emotional Support Dog Mauls A Child

Emotional Support Dog Mauls A Child
Jennifer Billock

A family is suing Alaska Airlines after their five-year-old child was allegedly mauled by an emotional support animal at the airport in Portland; the dog was neither crated nor wearing a muzzle—the owner of the support dog is being sued as part of the lawsuit as well, which is asking for $1.1 million.

Following a 2017 incident, Alaska Airlines, the Port of Portland, and emotional support dog owner Michelle Brannan are being sued by an Oregon family. Allegedly, Brannan’s emotional support dog mauled the Gonzalez family’s five-year-old daughter while they waited at a gate in Portland’s airport. The dog was not in a crate or muzzled at the time of the attack.

“As a result of the incident, Gabriella Gonzalez suffered injury to the muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and soft tissue of her face, eye, eyelid, tear duct and lip, as well as emotional trauma; all of which injuries, and the consequences of them, are permanent and have caused her to suffer non‐economic damages…of $1 million,” the lawsuit says, reported by USA Today.

An extra $100,000 is included in the suit to compensate for surgeries needed to repair the facial damages. The lawsuit says the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines were negligent, and Brannan created “an unreasonable risk of harm to the public,” USA Today reported.

Emotional support animal policies have been in flux lately as many airlines are changing them. Alaska Airlines did just that last year, noting in a statement, “We are making these changes now based on a number of recent incidents where the inappropriate behavior of emotional support animals has impacted and even injured our employees, other guests and service animals.”

Do you think emotional support animals should be allowed on flights? Join the conversation in the FlyerTalk forums.

[Source: Wikimedia/M.O. Stevens]

View Comments (17)

17 Comments

  1. rjpjr

    February 28, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    My emotional support animal can take yours any day.

  2. jjmoore

    February 28, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    That dog, I hope, was put down.

  3. naumank

    February 28, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    These so called “emotional animals” should be banned, period. Really feel sorry for the little girl. There should be a few more of these lawsuits targeting the individuals to deter such tragedies from happening again.

  4. closecover

    February 28, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    Ban emotional support animals from all flights. Now. Always. And. Forever.

  5. AAdamE

    March 1, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Sorry but your need for comfort that can only be obtained through fying in a tiny metal tube is less than my need for safety!

  6. drphun

    March 1, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Real service animals are highly trained so it is unlikely one would ever do anything like that. This is the inevitable result of rampant service animal fraud. It also harms all the legitimate service animals out there.

  7. Flapjacks

    March 1, 2019 at 8:49 am

    No emotional support animals should not be allowed on any type of public transportation.

  8. Fine Art Landscape Photographer

    March 1, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Now that we established that support dogs are dangerous but what about support peacocks? 🙂

  9. jt12321

    March 1, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Overwhelmingly, “emotional support animals” is a BS title, used and abused by people who want to take pets along, without shoving them into a crate in the cargo hold. And I wouldn’t want to put my pet in there either. At the end of the day, airlines need to call it what it is and simply say no. Either it’s a credentialed service dog, or it goes in a crate, or you and your pet can stay home together. I’ve personally seen these untrained excuses for support animals defecate and urinate in the aisles, yelp and harass and disturb everyone. It’s very inconsiderate and selfish.

  10. Lakeviewsteve

    March 1, 2019 at 11:15 am

    It doesn’t mention why the parents let this letter girl anywhere near a strange animal. Dogs don’t like kids because they poke their fingers in their eyes. Shame on those parents for not protecting their daughter.

    The dog should not be put down. JJmoore and naumank above are wrong.

  11. amanx

    March 1, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Ban them, and their owners.

  12. Gizzabreak

    March 1, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Why expose passengers to the risk of emotionally insecure passengers, let alone ‘plus’ unpredictable support ‘other life forms’ (as far as I’m aware the passenger has to be ‘medically certified’ as emotionally insecure and ‘requiring’ the support animal)? And if it’s not P.C. to suggest excluding the ‘whole’ problem, then considering that freight holds are, to the best of my knowledge, heated and pressurised these days, why not provide a secure ‘container’ in which both parties can travel with neither able to pose a risk to others?

  13. thepinenuts

    March 1, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    On a flight LIH to SAN two weeks ago, flight was delayed almost 30 minutes while Alaska staff tried to get a lady off who snuck and “Emotional Support Bunny” on board. Finally got her off.

  14. MrGood

    March 2, 2019 at 6:59 am

    Emotional support animals need to be banned. Of all the countless flights I’ve been on, every person with one CLEARLY didn’t need any “emotional support” and instead was CLEARLY cheating the system. They make passengers traveling with pets in travel carrier-duffle bags look bad.

  15. DCAFly

    March 2, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Linking to a photo of the little girl’s face is completely unnecessary. She’s 5 years old. If that was your little girl would want her face slapped all over the web like that.

  16. BAAA

    March 2, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Dont blame the child or the parent Lakeviewsteve??? The animal was the issue -you are an idiot.

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