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Posted: February 26, 2018

Girl injured by emotional support dog while boarding Southwest flight

What is an Emotional Support Animal?


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FILE - In this March 21, 2008, file photo, two Southwest Airlines jets taxi before take-off in Phoenix. Southwest Airlines says a child was hurt by a support dog in Phoenix on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, as passengers boarded a plane in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York, file)

By Jared Leone, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

An emotional support dog injured a child who was boarding a Southwest flight from Phoenix Wednesday, just as some carries are tightening restrictions on passengers taking animals on planes.

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The dog was in the first row of seats with its owner, who warned the girl, who was about 6 or 7 years old, not to approach it, The Associated Press reported. The dog’s teeth scraped the child’s forehead and the girl was checked out by paramedics, according to the airline

The family remained on the plane. The man and his dog took a later flight. 

"During boarding of flight #1904 from Phoenix to Portland, Ore. Wednesday night, our initial reports indicate a support dog's teeth scraped a child's forehead as the young passenger approached the animal, causing a minor injury,” Southwest said in a statement. “EMTs evaluated the child, who was cleared to continue on the flight. The dog and its owner remained in Phoenix as the aircraft departed approximately 20 minutes behind schedule. As always, the safety of our Customers is our highest priority."

The incident comes as Delta and United Airlines are rolling out more restrictive policies for traveling animals.

While passengers can be asked for a note explaining the use of the animal, unlike service animals such as guide dogs, support animals do not need training. 

Delta and United have seen a rise in support animals on planes in the last year and are requiring more paperwork from owners.

A dog flying aboard a Delta flight bit and severely injured a passenger in June. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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