An emotional support dog bit a kid's head before a Southwest Airlines flight Wednesday, prompting the expulsion of a passenger from the plane and a 20-minute postponement, CBS News reports.
Southwest said paramedics examined the girl, who was later cleared to continue on the flight. The dog and its owner left the aircraft and took a later flight to Portland.
Passenger Todd Rice tells CBS the girl "was screaming and crying". The animal and its owner stayed in Phoenix. That's when the dog bit the child, breaking the skin.
In a later tweet, he said, "When dogs are biting 6 year old kids on planes, it may be time to reconsider rewriting your "safety" policy and procedure manual". However, passengers can be asked to show a medical professional's note explaining why support animals should travel.
Delta Air Lines said in January that it is requiring advance documentation, such as proof of health or vaccinations and signed paperwork confirming that the animals can behave.
At least one passenger was bothered by the incident, posting about it on Twitter. But airlines have latitude to deny boarding to certain "unusual" service animals, including snakes and other reptiles, ferrets, rodents and spiders, and can prevent them from boarding if the animal poses a threat to the safety of others.
Trained emotional support animals are allowed on Southwest domestic and global flights as long as their handlers provide documents (these could include health certificates, vaccinations or permits) required by the laws and regulations at the destination.
Unlike service animals such as guide dogs, support animals need no training.