Girl aged five is mauled after asking to pet 'emotional support' pit bull

Just awful

Content Editor / March 01 2019

A five-year-old girl was mauled by an ‘emotional support’ pit bull after asking if she could pet the dog.

Gabriella Gonzalez, was in Portland International Airport when the incident occurred and the support dog was reportedly on a leash but not crated or otherwise secured, reports the Washington Post.

Gabriella had been sitting in the waiting area with her older brother while her mother, Mirna, was getting coffee.

When she saw the pit bull, who was accompanied by its owner, Michelle Brannan, she allegedly asked permission to pet it.

As she reached her hand out, the dog bit back, leaving the five-year-old with blood dripping down her face.

Portland Airport/Gabriella Gonzalez

Portland Airport/Gabriella Gonzalez

The child’s parents have filed a lawsuit, suing both the dog’s owner and Alaskan Airlines for $1.1 for emotional and financial damages.

According to the lawsuit, Gabriella suffered injuries to "muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and soft tissue of her face, eye, eyelid, tear duct and lip" that will likely leave her with permanent scarring.

She also required surgery to repair "complex facial lacerations and a damaged tear duct" that led to costly medical expenses, and she may need more in the future.

The family’s attorney, Chad Stavley, said he hopes the lawsuit will push airports and airlines to strictly enforce the policies surrounding emotional support animals.

In Australia, service animals are permitted on domestic flights, however strict regulations are in place including having been trained as an assistance dog by an approved organization.

Overseas visitors bringing a service dog into the country are met by a vet on arrival at the airport and the animal is then placed in quarantine for at least 10 days.

Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.

Related tags