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Mom files $1.1m lawsuit after emotional support dog mauls 5 year old girl at Portland airport

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Gabriella Gonzalez
Pictured, Mirna Gonzalez's five year old daughter, Gabriella Gonzalez.
Gabriella Gonzalez
Pictured, Mirna Gonzalez’s five year old daughter, Gabriella Gonzalez.

Pasco mother, Mirna Gonzalez files $1.1m lawsuit after emotional dog mauls 5 year old daughter, Gabriella at Portland airport. Dog’s owner, Michelle Brannan cited.

A Pasco, Oregon woman has filed a $1.1 million negligence lawsuit after her 5-year-old daughter was mauled by a pit bull— which was being used as an emotional support animal — at Portland International Airport after petting the dog.

Mirna Gonzalez and her children were waiting for an Alaska Airlines flight to Texas on Dec. 18, 2017, when the animal attacked the child after the mother stepping away to grab a coffee, The Washington Post reported.

While she was away, Gabriella asked if she could pet the dog, which suddenly bit the 5 year old girl in the face and left her bloodied.

Gonzalez is suing the dog’s owner, Michelle Brannan, Alaska Airlines and the Port of Portland, alleging that the pit bull was let into the airport without a carrier.

The suit filed Monday- claims Brannan should have known that her dog had ‘vicious propensities.’ The suit also alleges Brannan ‘should have known that taking her pit bull to the airport created an unreasonable risk of harm to the public.’

USA Today reports the lawsuit being filed in the circuit court of the state of Oregon, in the county of Multnomah.

The incident led to the pit bull undergoing facial reconstruction surgery. The attack according to the mother led to Gabriella’s tear duct being severed and disfiguring her upper lip, leaving a piece of it missing, according to the family’s attorney, Chad Stavley.

The child was left with permanent scars after undergoing tear-duct surgery, he said, adding that he plans to probe whether the dog was a legitimate emotional support animal.

Brannan, who claims that it was, did not immediately respond to media overtures for comment.

According to a December 2017 report from KATU 2 News, the dog was quarantined at an animal shelter for 10 days after the incident, and Brannan was cited by police for failing to crate the animal.

Gonzalez’ attorney, says the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines knew the dog owner was not abiding by the airport’s rules.

‘They did nothing to protect the public and a girl got hurt, so we’re going to hold them accountable,’ said Stavley.

‘There’s a lot of abuse of this emotional support animal situation,’ Stavley reiterated, ‘and folks who have legitimate service animals — people who are blind and need guide dogs and the like — are kind of getting thrown into the same boat [as emotional support animals]. It shines a poor light on those folks.’

The Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines both declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Stavley said he hopes the lawsuit will prompt airports and airlines to enforce policies regarding emotional support animals that most created in response to similar recent cases.

New rules also target fraudulent emotional support animals or service animals — house pets disguised as helpers.

In June 2017, an emotional support dog bit a man in the face aboard a Delta Air Lines flight out of Atlanta, leaving him with 28 stitches.

In February 2018, another emotional support dog bit a girl’s forehead on a Southwest flight departing Phoenix.

The series of incidents led to Alaska Airlines being among some of the airlines that changed their policy on emotional support animals last year.

According to its new rule, people must keep their dog or cat — the only animals allowed on board — in a carrier or on a leash at all times and provide 48-hour notice before their flights.

The suit is seeking $100,000 in damages for Gabriella’s past and future medical expenses and another $1 million for pain and suffering.

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