Emotional Support Dog Bites Young Girl’s Face On Plane
Southwest Airlines is currently reviewing its policy on emotional support animals, after an emotional support dog bit a young girl during boarding for a flight from Arizona to Oregon. The dog was traveling in the cabin as an “emotional support animal” when it reportedly bit the child, believed to be about 6 or 7 years old. Thankfully, her injuries were minor.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the owner of the emotional support dog warned the girl to stay away as she approached the animal.
Southwest spokesperson Melissa Ford said the dog was in the first row of seats behind the bulkhead. The girl approached the dog, after the owner told her to stay back. The dog’s teeth scraped her forehead, breaking the skin and causing a small injury. The dog was not muzzled.
The child was checked out by paramedics, who cleared her to continue on the flight. Police interviewed the girl and her family, as well as the owner of the dog. The family continued on the flight, but the dog and owner stayed behind in Arizona.
It’s important to note the distinction between trained service animals, and emotional support animals.
Service animals undergo rigorous training, sometimes for a year or longer. They’re trained not to react to other people, and rarely need to be muzzled in public. Meanwhile, support animals require no training, and in some cases, don’t even require documentation. We’ve seen some pretty outrageous “emotional support animals” recently. Remember the woman who tried to fly with her emotional support PEACOCK? Or the girl who, after being told she couldn’t board with her emotional support hamster, flushed it down a toilet in the airport bathroom? It’s getting out of hand, honestly.
People who abuse the “emotional support animal” policies make it that much harder for people who use certified service animals in their day-to-day lives to manage their disabilities.
We’re so glad the little girl is OK. However, there’s no way that dog should’ve been on that flight if it ever exhibits any kind of aggression. Especially without a muzzle. Likewise, it’s always a good idea to reiterate to your kids the importance of not approaching animals without their owner’s permission. You just never know!