Emotional Support Pit Bull Attacks Child at Airport Feb 27, 2019 23:02:17 GMT -5 catherine likes this
Post by Joanna on Feb 27, 2019 23:02:17 GMT -5
Emotional Support Pit Bull Attacks Child at Airport, Lawsuit Filed
The mother of a 5-year-old girl mauled in the face by a pit bull at Portland International Airport has filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against the Port of Portland for allowing a dangerous “emotional support animal” into the airport without a carrier. The lawsuit lists two other defendants: the dog’s owner, Michelle Brannan, and Alaska Airlines. According to the suit, Brannan should have known that her dog had “vicious propensities”; and the airline is at fault for allowing Brannan to bring a dangerous dog into the gate waiting area, where the attack happened, when the dog wasn’t a trained service animal or properly confined.
Mirna Gonzalez is suing on behalf of her daughter, Gabriella, who was 5 at the time of the attack on Dec. 18, 2017, and is now age 7.
According to Chad Stavley, the family’s Portland attorney, Gabriella and her family were waiting at gate C7 to board a flight to Texas for the Christmas holiday. The girl’s mother and older sister went to get coffee nearby as Gabriella and her 13-year-old brother waited at the gate.
With Brannan’s consent, Gabriella began petting the dog, which bit the girl, puncturing her eyelid, severing a tear duct, lacerating her face and tearing her lip. The child underwent surgery and still has visible scars, he said.
“The traveler need only answer those questions, and we’re required to accept the answer,” Kama Simonds, a spokeswoman for the Port of Portland, advised in an email. She added that officials do not ask for documentation of the animal’s training. She said the port distinguishes between trained service animals and emotional support animals, requiring that the latter be placed in carriers while passing through the airport. If the animal is too large for a carrier, the animal must be on a leash within 3 feet of its owner.
Port officials apparently thought Brannan’s dog could have fit into some sort of carrier because port police cited her for failing to crate her dog. Stavley said that at this time, he doesn’t know if officials at the airport questioned Brannan about her dog before she got to the gate, or what Brannan might have said when asked if her dog was a trained service animal or an emotional support animal. He added that Brannan was carrying what looked like a form letter from her therapist, saying her animal was an emotional support animal. “It didn’t say what kind of animal,” he confirmed. “It was just a generic ‘animal.’” Brannan, who lived in Portland at the time, was allowed to catch a later flight without her dog, Stavley revealed.
According to Alaska Airlines’ policy on its website, trained service animals as well as emotional support animals fly free of charge. “We welcome trained service animals and emotional support animals,” the website states. The airline doesn’t require owners to place emotional service animals travel in a carrier. Rather, the website indicates that a leash is also acceptable.
The suit seeks $100,000 for past and future medical costs, including the costs of surgery, and $1 million for the child’s pain and suffering. The girl and her family live in Pasco, Wash., and were traveling through Portland.
The lawsuit was filed Monday, February 25, in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
Sources: Aimee Green, OregonLive, February 27, 2019, and Alexander Deabler, Fox News, February 27, 2019.