Girl injured by dog during boarding for Southwest flight

Fowl play This is Dexter the peacock whose owner a Brooklyn artist attempted to take him on board a United Airlines flight as an emotional support animal- but was denied

Girl injured by dog during boarding for Southwest flight

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.

Southwest spokesperson Melissa Ford tells Bloomberg the girl, who is around 6 years old, approached the dog despite being told to stay away by the dog's owner.

Southwest told Business Insider in a statement that after the child approached the emotional support dog while boarding the flight, the dog's teeth "scraped" the child's forehead. The incident was reportedly first documented by another passenger, Todd Rice, on Twitter, though the tweet is no longer available. She was examined by emergency medical workers and police interviewed both the pet owner and the girl's family before the flight was cleared to take off. The girl received medical treatment and police interviewed all parties involved before the flight could take off.

Southwest spokeswoman said there are no immediate plans to change its policy on emotional support animals but said the airline is continuing to study the issue.

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Southwest allows trained emotional-support animals to travel on domestic and worldwide flights as long as their handlers provide health certificates, permits and vaccinations required by the "country, state or territory from and/or to which the animal is being transported". The animal and its owner stayed in Phoenix. However, passengers need to provide a medical professional's note explaining why they need the animal to travel with them. Last June, a 70-pound (32-kilogram) dog flying on Delta as a support animal bit a passenger in the face severely enough that the man required hospital care. On Thursday, February 22, Delta relaxed the provision of service dogs after they faced opposition from advocacy groups for the disabled. Passengers flying with comfort animals are on the rise.

None of the new rules for support animals would apply to pets small enough to fit in carriers that go under airplane seats. There is no charge for service or support animals.

Unusual service animals like snakes and other reptiles, ferrets, rodents and spiders are denied entry as they pose a threat to the safety of other passengers.

Shortly before that incident, a student who was on a Spirit Airlines flight said she flushed her dwarf hamster named Pebbles down an airport toilet after an airline representative told her to do so.

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