Many people here in Massachusetts rely on emotional-support animals for comfort and other therapeutic benefits. They are often life-saving for their companions and allow their humans to do activities they might not otherwise be able to do. However, there have been some owners who misuse the "emotional-support" designation or who haven't had their animals properly trained. One man who was attacked by an emotional-support dog on a flight recently filed a civil claim against the dog's owner and the airline after he suffered a serious dog bite.
The plaintiff claims that he was seated next to the window and that another man, one of the defendants, was seated in the middle seat. The defendant allegedly had a large dog seated in his lap. The plaintiff says that he asked if the dog might bite and that the defendant stated that it would not. Reportedly, the dog started growling and shifting in the defendant's lap when the plaintiff fastened his seat belt. Once again, the plaintiff says that he asked if the dog would attack and was reassured that it would not.
Apparently, the dog then attacked the plaintiff, biting him on the face. It was pulled off of him, but bit him again after breaking free. The plaintiff says that he had to have 28 stitches and still has no sensation in certain areas on his face. The airline reportedly has a policy that states that large emotional support animals stay on the floor of an aircraft, but the plaintiff claims that none of the airline staff walking around attempted to enforce the policy.
The plaintiff is seeking damages for his emotional distress, mental anguish and his injuries. If his suit is successful, both the airline and the man who owned the emotional-support animal will be deemed liable for the incident. Those here in Massachusetts who find themselves in a similar situation could pursue legal action the way this man did. A personal injury lawyer with experience in dog bite cases could be a valuable resource.