Service animals have become a common sight in most cities and in many smaller towns across the United States. These animals, usually dogs, are specially trained to assist persons with disabilities in navigating the world around them. These canines were originally used as “guide dogs” to help individuals with visual impairments cross streets or otherwise travel safety.
Over the years, people with other disabilities have discovered how to utilize these amazing animals. People with diabetes have specifically trained dogs who can respond to changes in blood sugar, and people with seizures can have dogs that carry important medication or devices along with information on how to utilize them.
Emotional support animals are a further evolution of service animals. These animals, still often dogs, are trained to support people who have difficulty due to disabilities such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or serious anxiety. Because their responsibilities are less intensive than traditional service animals, emotional support animals often have lower levels of training.
One of these animals bit a 6-year-old girl on a flight from Phoenix to Portland on February 21st, 2018. The child, as children often do, was intrigued by the dog and approached it. During the incident, the child suffered a bite to the forehead, causing the animal and its owner to disembark the flight.
The role of emotional support animals has been controversial, with some people arguing that these animals do not fulfill a medical need as other service animals do. Businesses have begun cracking down on people utilizing poorly trained dogs as emotional support animals. These types of incidents are inevitable. Having a licensed service, therapy, or emotional support animal does not protect the owner from lawsuits if their dog harms another person.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a dog bite, evaluating the circumstances of the incident is important. Many animals have a long history of aggressive behavior culminating in a vicious attack. Please, retain a qualified attorney to help you perform interviews and seek important information about the animal involved in your case.