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Young Girl Gets Permission to Pet Fellow Passenger’s ‘Emotional Support’ Pit Bull. Then It Attacked Her

Young Girl Gets Permission to Pet Fellow Passenger’s ‘Emotional Support’ Pit Bull. Then It Attacked Her

Gabriella Gonzalez

According to the airport’s rules, the pit bull should have been in a carrier.

As KATU reports, in December 2017, 5-year-old Gabriella Gonzalez was at Portland International Airport with her family, waiting to board a flight. That’s when another passenger showed up with a dog.

According to the Oregonian, Gabriella’s mother and sister had gone to get coffee, leaving the girl in the gate waiting area with her 13-year-old brother. When Michelle Brannan arrived with her emotional support animal, a pit bull, Gabriella asked for her permission to pet the dog.

Brannan gave her consent. But when the young girl went to pet the animal, it allegedly attacked her, biting her face and causing numerous cuts and injuries. According to the family’s attorney, Gabriella suffered a punctured eyelid, severed tear duct, facial lacerations, and a torn lip. She had to undergo surgery and still has scars from the attack.

Gabriella’s mother, Mirna, has since filed a lawsuit on behalf of her daughter. She is suing Brannan, Alaska Airlines, and the Portland Airport for $1.1 million.

The lawsuit claims Brannan should have known about her dog’s, “vicious propensities.” It says that the airport is at fault for allowing a dangerous animal in without a carrier. And it claims that the airline should not have allowed the pit bull into the gate area because it wasn’t confined and wasn’t a trained service animal.

Alaska Airlines declined to comment on the pending litigation, but its website states that emotional support animals fly free and must be leashed or in a carrier. As the woman who unsuccessfully tried to fly with an emotional support peacock learned, airlines can set higher requirements for emotional support animals on their flights.

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Portland International Airport requires emotional support animals to be kept in carriers except in the pet relief area. Animals that don’t fit in carriers have to be kept on a leash that extends no more than three feet. However, the airport police later cited Brannan for not having the dog in a carrier, suggesting that the animal was not too big.

The attorney for Gabriella told the Oregonian that Brannan was carrying a form letter from her therapist, designating her dog as an “emotional support animal”:

“It didn’t say what kind of animal. It was just a generic ‘animal.'”

A spokesperson for the Port of Portland told the Oregonian that she could not comment on the case. However, she said port officials can ask if an animal is a service animal and what service it provides, but don’t ask for documentation of the animal’s training:

“The traveler need only answer those questions, and we’re required to accept the answer.”

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View Comments (20)
  • Instead of trying to gain money after you left your 5 year old, why don’t you 1st off, parent your baby, and 2nd try to change these annoying “emotional support animal” nonsense laws. Don’t sue the airport, don’t die the airline! They’re trying their best Because God forbid you don’t allow an “emotional support animal” then those people sue!!! Change the laws to give proof of an actual need for a therapy dog and have paperwork that the dog was trained. Don’t sue the airport!!

  • An emotional support animal is NOT a trained animal. It is basically a pet who some “medical” professional has indicated the owner needs for their emotional well being. There is a tremendous amount of fraud surrounding emotional support (or “companion” ) animals, and those fraudsters screw things up for those who really, truly need a companion animal.

    A service animal is TRAINED. There are a lot of fraudsters in this area as well. A service animal is NEVER held, NEVER begs for food, NEVER jumps at strangers, NEVER barks inappropriately, etc. It can take years to train a service animal.

    South Dakota passed a law last year so that falsifying documents for a service animal (“documents” are available on the Internet) is a misdemeanor and subject to a $1,000 fine. I wish the law was much stricter.

    I am fully in support of service and companion animals, but I am SICK of people passing off their pets as those types of animals so they don’t have to pay pet deposits, pet rent, get free flights, etc. Those people do a HUGE disservice to those who really have a need. If you can’t afford ALL of the costs associated with having a pet, don’t have a pet.

  • EVERYBODY is sue Happy! If the dog was dangerous it should have a mouth muzzle.
    Obviously, there is more to this story! Dogs don’t bite without provocation.
    AND the owner would NOT put a child in harms way, with HER pet.
    The wounds will heal. The woman should pay the hospital bills.
    END OF STORY.

  • There needs to be some common sense applied here; the dog owner was in violation of airport and airline rules and had no way to restrain her dog and isn’t it about time to acknowledge that certain dog breeds are most notorious for bites? Let’s not start saying how it’s not the dogs fault but the owner’s fault, animals should be controlled and managed; they are not people and need to be controlled. I think the law suit will help teach people and businesses that they too have to follow the rules or penalties apply.

  • First of all despite the “paperwork “ that dog was not a certified support animal because a trained certified animal would never react like this dog did. Second that dog is a member of a breed of dog labeled dangerous despite how “friendly and loving “ the owner claims.
    That owner is liable for every medical costs incurred by her “so-called emotional support “ animal. Plus she should be banned for life from flying because of her other disrespect of other passengers by her”insistence “ on needing dog loose out of a carrier cage.
    I hope that the little girl gets proper medical care.

  • I disagree that certain breeds are notorious for bites. I will say that certain breeds have a more powerful bite and one that can do more damage than others. There are certain breeds that are not the best for children or other animals to be around. It does come down to obedient training and also social training with all dogs. Parents should never allow their children to approach or pet a strange dog.

  • A good rule of thumb is not to pet service or emotional support dogs because they will get distracted from their task.

  • This wasn’t an emotional support animal. It was an untrained dog with a cry-baby owner who pretends she can’t go anywhere without it. A friend of mine had a pit bull for many years and it was one of the sweetest big sissy dogs you ever met. Because it was trained and loved and taught to be that way. I think she should sue all of the above-mentioned, and the doctor that gave the woman the note. Probably a close personal friend that’s a doctor and said no problem, I’ll write it up and you can take the dog anywhere.

  • Your sadly mistaken…and dont take this in a negative way Im merely pointing out facts…
    .Im a dog lover first off , but there are dogs every day attacking innocent people fedx mailmen people taking a walk….they are not provoked. Its how a dog is raised defines his character…..It doesnt matter that she went to grab what ever she was with her 13 yr old brother. Its the airports fault for not doing a better job vetting the person and dog. If it were your child who asked first if she could pet the doggy to her 95yr old ) and the dog attacks her would you not also sue. You can bet your dollar that that lady pulled a snow job so that her pet could go with her

  • Your sadly mistaken..
    .Im a dog lover first off , but there are dogs every day attacking innocent people fedx mailmen people taking a walk….they are not provoked. Its how a dog is raised defines his character…..It doesnt matter that she went to grab what ever she was with her 13 yr old brother. Its the airports fault for not doing a better job vetting the person and dog. If it were your child who asked first if she could pet the doggy to her (5yr old ) and the dog attacks her would you not also sue. You can bet your dollar that that lady pulled a snow job so that her pet could go with her

  • A terrible situation. Parents please teach your children not to approach strange animals. Because I love animals I am tempted to kiss everyone I see but I am aware they can be spooked by any stranger. Emotional support animals don’t mean they are friendly. They protect their owners. I think all animals should be in travel kennels. People don’t like to have their pets in the luggage area. I love pit bulls. We own 2. They are very strong and loving dogs. I know their limits. In the airport with strange loud noises and lots of people any thing could go wrong. I hope the little girl heals from her injury. The owner of the dog has a responsibility to control her pet and the parent is responsible for their young child.

  • I have to agree wth the mother in suing the dog owner. The dog owner should have a muzzle on her dog at all times when in public because Pitties are known to be vicious – whether support dogs or not.
    As far as not being in a carrier – I don’t know what the law is regarding support or service dogs on an airplane being in a carrier but the dog still should have been muzzled regardless. Nothing will ever change my mind!

  • It’s a pit bull, bred initially to fight from the beginning, but any kind of breed that is on the dangerous or vicious dog list should not be dubbed as support dogs unless they are in a crate and kept away from other passengers. All dogs can bite, Yes. I feel bad for the little girl, it was a poor choice to leave children unattended at airport but getting attacked by a dog may have been the last thing the mom thought would happen. No amount of money can fix what the little girl had to endure but it may be needed for therapy for when she can’t even walk near a dog because of that.

  • It could have killed this little girl and everyone else around. Not to mention, she has scars for life. Dogs should not be allowed at airports without being in a carrier, leashed, trained, and a license, especially big dogs.

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