·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

Alaska Airlines Hit with Lawsuit Claiming Emotional Support Dog Mauled 5-Year-Old

— March 1, 2019

A lawsuit was recently filed against Alaska Airlines over a 2017 incident involving a child being mauled by an emotional support pit bull.

Alaska Airlines made headlines this week over a 2017 incident involving a 5-year-old girl and a pit bull. According to a lawsuit that stemmed from the incident, the child’s family claims she was “mauled by a pit bull at the airline’s gate in Portland back in 2017.” In addition to Alaska Airlines, the dog owner and Port of Portland are also named as defendants in the $1.1 million lawsuit.

Pit Bull
Pit Bull; image courtesy of joestoltz via Pixabay,

So what happened? How did a child encounter the dog at the airport? Well, according to the lawsuit, the child, Gabriella Gonzalez, “was waiting with her family for a flight on Dec. 18, 2017, when Michelle Brannan’s pit bull attacked her at an Alaska Airlines gate.” Throughout Alaska Airlines’ ticketing process and the Port of Portland’s security process, the pit bull was not in a crate. The suit states:

“Ms. Brannan claimed the pit bull was an emotional support animal…As a result of the incident, Gabriella Gonzalez suffered injury to the muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and soft tissue of her face, eye, eyelid, tear duct and lip, as well as emotional trauma; all of which injuries, and the consequences of them, are permanent and have caused her to suffer non‐economic damages…$1 million.”

The suit itself was filed in Multnomah County in Oregon. As a result of the incident, the child required surgery to “to repair complex facial lacerations and a damaged tear duct, and has incurred medical expenses and will incur future medical expenses of $100,000.” The suit further argues that Brennan “is liable for Gonzalez’s injuries” because she created “an unreasonable risk of harm to the public by taking the dog to the airport.” Additionally, the suit argues Alaska Airlines and Port of Portland was negligent.

Since the incident, Alaska Airlines updated its emotional support animal policy. It now states:

“We are making these changes now based on a number of recent incidents where the inappropriate behavior of emotional support animals has impacted and even injured our employees, other guests and service animals.”

Other airlines have also followed suit in adjusting their emotional support animal policies. For example, Delta no longer allows “emotional-support animals on long-haul flights.”

In response to the lawsuit, the Port of Portland issued the following statement:

“We’re refraining from commenting about the details of the pending litigation.”

Alaska Airlines issued a similar statement:

“We’re heartbroken by this tragic and disturbing incident and remain very concerned for our guests’ condition. We are not able to comment on the case given it is pending litigation.”


‘Emotional support’ pit bull mauled 5-year-old girl at Portland airport gate, lawsuit states

Lawsuit Claims ‘Emotional Support Animal’ Mauled 5-Year-Old at Portland Airport

Join the conversation!