The do’s and don’ts with therapy dogs
An Envoy Air flight attendant received five stitches after an emotional support dog bit him Monday while en route to Piedmont Triad International Airport from DFW.
The flight attendant was examined by a medical team at Piedmont Triad in North Carolina and cleared to fly back to Dallas-Fort Worth, where he received the stitches.
A spokesman for American Airlines, which wholly owns Envoy Air, said the owner of the dog became ill and the flight attendant was reaching into the seat back in front of the owner for a sickness bag. The dog felt threatened by the flight attendant reaching into the area and bit him, according to the spokesman. The airline didn’t say what breed of dog it was.
The Association of Flight Attendants said in a statement that it is pushing for new standards for emotional support animals following the incident.
“We need the Department of Transportation to take action now, so events like the one that happened yesterday do not continue to occur on our planes,” the AFA said in a statement. “This is fundamentally about maintaining safety, health and security for passengers and crew, while ensuring accessibility for those who need it.”
Envoy Air allows emotional support dogs, cats and, in some rarer cases, trained miniature horses aboard its flights.
American Airlines restricted eligible emotional support animals in 2018 and again this year. In 2018, the company prohibited insects, hedgehogs and goats.
American Airlines requires emotional support and service animals to be older than 4 months, vaccinated, clean, well behaved and must fit at the feet or in the lap of the passenger they are accompanying.
The airline prohibits these animals from being in the aisle or eating off trays, and passengers with animals in the cabin cannot sit on rows with emergency exits. They are also required to be pre-cleared 48 hours in advance, with some exceptions being made for emergency flights booked in that 48-hour window.
Dogs that show signs of aggression before boarding, such as growling, biting or trying to bite, and jumping or lunging at people are not allowed aboard a flight.
American Airlines and the Association of Flight Attendants are both in contact with the Department of Transportation about the incident. The spokesman for American Airlines said it is simply making the department aware of the incident.
Any changes to the rules regarding emotional support animals must be cleared first by the Department of Transportation.