Pasco woman sues over emotional support dog attack at Portland airport
WARNING: This story contains a graphic photo below.
PORTLAND – A Pasco woman is seeking $1.1 million in damages on behalf of her daughter who was bitten by a woman’s emotional support dog at the Portland International Airport.
Mirna Gonzalez filed the lawsuit on Monday. The suit alleges a pit bull attacked her 5-year-old daughter Gabriella inside the airport on Dec. 18, 2017.
Gonzalez told KAPP-KVEW she and her family were waiting by their gate to board a flight to Texas to visit family for Christmas when the dog attacked. She said her daughter asked the dog’s owner, Michelle Brannan, if the dog bites and then received permission to touch the dog before the incident.
“There was just blood everywhere,” said Gonzalez, adding that seeing her daughter’s injuries was “horrifying.”
Gonzalez said she rushed her daughter to the hospital where she had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery.
The lawsuit says Brannan “should have known that taking her pit bull to the airport created an unreasonable risk of harm to the public.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines allowed Brannan to keep her “dangerous” emotional support animal unsecured inside the airport.
Kama Simonds, spokeswoman for the Port of Portland, said all animals except service dogs must be kept in pet carriers when they’re inside the airport except when using pet relief areas. Emotional support animals are not service animals.
Simonds said the dog’s owner was issued a $250 citation for failing to crate her dog.
According to Alaska Airlines’ website, emotional support animals are allowed on planes without a container as long as they remain on a leash.
Chad Stavley, Gonzalez’ attorney, says the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines knew the dog owner was not abiding by the airport’s rules.
“They did nothing to protect the public and a girl got hurt, so we’re going to hold them accountable,” said Stavley.
The Port of Portland, Alaska Airlines and the dog’s owner are all listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
The suit is seeking $100,000 in damages for Gabriella’s past and future medical expenses and another $1 million for pain and suffering.