US & Canada

'Emotional support dog attack' on plane sparks US lawsuit

Delta Airlines planes Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Planes from Delta Airlines, which is being accused of negligence, sitting on the tarmac in Atlanta

A man in the US has filed a lawsuit alleging an emotional support dog mauled his face on a flight.

Marlin Jackson was flying from Atlanta to San Diego in June 2017 when he says he was attacked by the chocolate Labrador-pointer mix.

The lawsuit against Delta Airlines and the owner says the dog pinned him to a window seat, leading to 28 stitches.

It adds that Mr Jackson bled "so profusely that the entire row of seats had to be removed" from the plane.

"While Mr Jackson was securing his seatbelt, the animal began to growl," the lawsuit, filed in Fulton County in Georgia and reported by local media, says.

"The attack was briefly interrupted when the animal was pulled away from Mr Jackson. However, the animal broke free and again mauled Mr Jackson's face."

Mr Jackson was left needing 28 stitches to his face and body, the suit adds.

The owner is reportedly a US Marine.


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The suit, which accuses Delta of negligence, claims that the airline "took no action to verify or document the behavioural training" of the dog.

Delta told BBC News that it would not comment on a specific ongoing legal complaint, but said that it had made changes to its policy around emotional support animals after the incident.

"In 2018, Delta tightened its policies on emotional support animals by requiring a 'confirmation of animal training' form as well as other official documentation," a spokesperson said.

"The airline also banned pit bulls and animals under four months of age as service or support animals."

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Media captionWhy I need my 'emotional support' pig

This suit comes just a few months after a woman filed a lawsuit against another US airline, Alaska Airlines, after an emotional support pit bull allegedly bit her five-year-old daughter's face in Portland, Oregon.

And last year several unconventional emotional support animals were barred from boarding flights - including a peacock and a squirrel.

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