Airline to review pet policy due to dog bite

Andrew Cummings
February 25, 2018

A child was bitten by an emotional support dog on a Southwest Airlines plane in Phoenix late Wednesday, adding to the debate about the risks of an increasing number of in-flight animals.

The girl reportedly approached the animal after its owner asked her to keep away, southwest spokeswoman Melissa Ford said.

The child, whom the airline says was 6 or 7 years old, was treated by paramedics for a minor injury, the airline says, and continued on the flight.

Passenger Todd Rice discloses to CBS the kid "was shouting and crying".

"EMTs evaluated the child, who was cleared to continue on the flight" that was heading from Phoenix to Portland, the airline said. "We assure you that Safety is our top priority and are addressing the situation". The new requirements are in response to an 84 percent increase in incidents since 2016, from urinating or defecating, to barking or growling, to mauling a passenger whose face needed 28 stitches.

"When kids are touching service dogs, it may be time for parents to wise up, " one post said.

Trained emotional support animals are allowed on Southwest domestic and worldwide flights as long as their handlers provide documents (these could include health certificates, vaccinations or permits) required by the laws and regulations at the destination. There is growing concern about fake online authorizations for emotional support animals, which are exempt from airlines' usual pet fees.

Delta and United have said they will limit the use of service animals after they've been involved in numerous incidents.

Portage says Southwest will audit its strategies for emotional support and administration creatures yet won't roll out improvements "quickly" so as to ensure they "do it right".

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