Southwest Airlines emotional support dog bites six year old girl: How a Wednesday incident fueled debate as to whether the animals should be allowed to accompany travelers?
Disconcert has come to the fore with the revelation that an accompanying emotional support dog biting a six year old passenger as passengers boarded a flight in Phoenix, Arizona. The incident has fueled the debate over the growing number of emotional-support animals on planes.
The outcry comes after passenger, Tim Rice who was on board Wednesday’s Phoenix-to-Portland, Oregon, flight described an incident where the support dog positioned towards the front of the plane bit a girl as she approached it, with the girl screaming and crying.
Southwest said the dog’s teeth ‘scraped a child’s forehead’ and paramedics checked the girl, who appeared to be 6 or 7 years old reported cbsnews.
Posted Rice at the time, ‘@SouthwestAir flight 1904 allows a support dog on the plane, bites kid, paramedics now on plane. Why are dogs on the plane?! Never again will I fly SWA’.
Southwest spokeswoman Melissa Ford said the dog was in the plane’s first row of seats with its owner, who insisted he’d warned the girl not to approach his dog.
Police interviewed the girl’s family and the dog’s owner. The family decided to remain on the plane, while the dog and its owner left and took a later flight, Ford said.
While some passengers were outraged by the incident, some went on to social media voicing support for the owner of the emotional support dog.
‘She was specifically told to stay away, clearly she nor her parents listened,’ one user wrote. ‘She’s already six, teach her personal responsibility. The pet owner has every right to be angry, it’s not the dog’s fault the kid wasn’t supervised.’
Southwest Airlines emotional support dog: An incidence of passengers abusing the system?
The incident comes as airlines consider new restrictions on passengers flying with emotional-support animals.
Unlike service animals such as guide dogs, support animals need no training. However, passengers can be asked to show a medical professional’s note explaining why they need the animal to travel. To boot the animals fly for free, with many wondering if it’s simply a case of some passengers trying to skirt fees of $125 and greater to bring small pets on board.
Southwest started reviewing its policy even before Wednesday’s event, Ford said. Starting next week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will require more paperwork and assurances from owners of support animals.
Both Delta and United said they have seen a sharp rise in the number of support animals in the last year or so. Last June, a 70-pound dog flying on Delta as a support animal bit a passenger in the face severely enough that the man required hospital care.
Delta had planned to require owners of both service and support animals to submit health forms filled out by a veterinarian at least 48 hours before a flight. On Thursday, however, Delta softened the provision for service dogs after running into opposition from advocacy groups for the disabled.
People who use service dogs said Delta’s original 48-hour requirement would have made it impossible for them to take last-minute, emergency flights noted a report via the nypost.
Delta said it won’t require customers to submit veterinarians’ forms in advance for trained service animals but might ‘in some cases’ ask those customers to show their animal’s vaccination records.
None of the new rules for support animals would apply to pets small enough to fit in carriers that go under airplane seats. Airlines charge up to $125 each way to carry a small pet in the cabin. There is no charge for service and support animals.
And then there were these responses on the web that caught this author’s eye, see what you think?
‘Sounds fishy to me. My friend trains support dogs and if any of them show the slightest sign of aggression they are removed from the program. I’m thinking this guy might have a pet that he didn’t want to pay airfare for.’
‘What percentage of people using “emotional support dogs” actually need one, and what percentage are just goofy people abusing the system?’
‘Emotional support pets should not be allowed on flights without any documentation as I’m sure thousands of people lie about that every day.’
‘Hire someone to take care of your pet and get psychological help. Don’t thrust your issues onto other passengers who have allergies, fears, etc. who figure out what to do.’
‘Simple solution……require that dogs traveling on planes must be muzzled. That way the incident doesn’t happen. The dog is not unfairly blamed. The parents aren’t unfairly blamed. The child is not unfairly blamed.’