Emotional Support Dog Bites Child on Flight

Southwest says it will review policies for support, service animals
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2018 4:08 PM CST
Emotional Support Dog Bites Child on Flight
In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 taxis to a gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

An emotional support dog bit a young girl's head before a Southwest Airlines flight Wednesday, leading to the removal of a passenger from the plane and a 20-minute delay, CBS News reports. Southwest spokesperson Melissa Ford tells Bloomberg the girl, who is around 6 years old, approached the dog despite being told to stay away by the dog's owner. Ford says the dog's teeth "scraped" the girl's forehead, breaking the skin. Passenger Todd Rice tells CBS the girl "was screaming and crying." He says the dog's owner was removed from the flight from Phoenix to Portland and didn't argue the decision. The girl received medical treatment and police interviewed all parties involved before the flight could take off.

Ford says Southwest will be reviewing its policies for emotional support and service animals but won't be making changes "immediately" in order to make sure they "do it right." Current airline policy says service and support animals must be trained to behave in public but doesn't require documentation. Delta and United (which earlier this year rejected a passenger's emotional support peacock) have already said they will require more documentation for support and service animals due to an increase in incidents. Wednesday's attack led to an argument on social media about who was to blame: the airline, the child, or the dog's owner, the Republic reports. For his part, Rice took to social media to complain and state he wouldn't be flying Southwest again. (More Southwest Airlines stories.)

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