Emotional support dog on the Southwest flight injures child, further fueling discussion about the rules of the airline

An emotional support dog injured a child on a Southwest plane, the scraping of his teeth against the child on the forehead.


A child was injured by an emotional support dog on a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Portland, Oregon Wednesday night, fueling the debate about the regulations relating to animals on aircraft.

The dog’s teeth scraped the child on the forehead after the passenger approached the animal during the boarding process, according to a spokesman of the Southwest.

The child received minor injuries and was examined by an EMT before continuing on the flight, which departed 20 minutes behind schedule. The dog and its owner does not stay on the plane and instead stayed in Phoenix, the spokesman said.


This photo is made by @SouthwestAir passenger who says that this is a service dog bit a child if it is boarded. The airline says the ambulance staff checked the child and everything was ok, that safety is a priority. The dog and the owner stepped out of the plane. Man that pic says that there are no dogs on airplanes.

— Anita Roman Fox 10 (@ANITAROMANFOX10) February 22, 2018

Another passenger on the same flight, Todd R., took a picture of the support animal and shared on Twitter in a discussion that have since been removed, with the argument that dogs should not be on planes and he would no longer fly Southwest.

In another tweet, the passenger wrote: “When dogs bite 6 year old children on a plane, it might be time to reconsider rewriting your ‘security’ policy and procedure manual,” AZ Central reported.

Yes, so you think that a fake emotional support animal which exhibits aggressive behavior really out in public without a muzzle? Especially in close quarters like a plane? That is an idiot.

— Political Junkie (@right_is_right0) February 22, 2018

I’m not arguing against the support of animals, I’m making a serious distinction between a real service animal that is rigorously trained and an animal that, in general, requires zero training, which makes a difference when it is involved in the public space.

— Laurie (@platavitch) February 22, 2018

Of course, you haven’t seen the animal fly on this airline. In fact, it is a petting zoo with wings. Something has to be done. The lady next to me fell asleep and her animal ended up half on my lap. The solving of this problem!

— Kevin McDonald (@kev_mcdonald34) February 22, 2018

Reactions to the incident were mixed on social media. While some agreed with Todd, with the argument that Southwest should make stricter rules for emotional support animals, just as other airlines have done recently.

Service animals should not be approached. They are with a person for a reason, and that is no entertainment. Where were the parents of the child?

— RcFlyer (@rcflyer52) February 22, 2018

The support of his guide dog. No one is suppose to inter act with them. They are working and they are protective animals.

— Janet l Johnson (@JanetlJohnson4) February 22, 2018

Someone tell me why is it the dogs fault when this girl went to a pet you are not allowed yourself or your children to walk and pet a service / support dog without the owner having sufficient time to command it to know that it is safe. Not just a random loose dog seriously

— trevbailee&tymom (@TrevBaileeTymom) February 22, 2018

Others believed that the dog is not at fault and that the child should never have allowed to approach the animal.

The southwest of the comments on the website of the service and emotional support animals are allowed on both domestic and international flights, but the animal must be trained to behave in a public setting and may be rejected if it fails to do this.

“Southwest Airlines welcomes fully trained service animals and emotional support animals a Customer with a disability on our flights. As our requirements for the transport of each type of animal are different, our Employees are trained to ask what the facts questions to determine which classification applies to a Customer’s animal,” the website reads.

The airline does note, however, that it will not allow that “unusual or exotic” animals to act as support pets, including, but not limited to, the following: rodents, ferrets, snakes, insects, spiders, reptiles, hedgehogs, bunnies, or sugar gliders.

With regard to the incident with the dog injuring the child, south-West said: “As always, the safety of our Customers is our top priority.”

Two other major airlines have stricter rules for service and support animals this year. Last month, Delta Air Lines, announces new strict guidelines for service and support animals on board, under indication of the customer’s abuse of the policy and a rise in animal-related incidents.


After a emotional support peacock was denied access to a United Airlines flight, the company followed in Delta’s footsteps, issuing similar new regulations for those who wish to see the animals on board. United took an 84 percent increase in the poor animal behavior, such as urinating, defecating, biting, and attacks on flights, as a stimulus for change.

Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle.

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