Jackson was asking for it. At least I’m sure the dog could make that argument.
Alabama man Marlin Jackson bought a ticket for a commercial flight on Delta Air Lines in 2017, boarded the right plane and sat in the right seat while expecting not to be mauled by a dog. Then he was mauled by a dog.
A dog. Mauled. Not in an alley, not in a junkyard, and not in the training course, “Rabid Mongrels R Us.” It was on an airplane.
I understand the need to allow certain dogs on planes. They’re called service dogs.
Service dogs are trained to do lots of helpful things, like guide those who have trouble seeing and hearing. They’re also taught not to eat people.
This dog, let’s call it Vlad the Impaler, wasn’t a service dog and the attack resulted in Jackson receiving 28 stitches and permanent scarring. The dog ripped into his face so badly the airline had to remove the row of seats due to all the blood.
Vlad was an emotional support animal.
Animals used to ease emotions have been around since ancient Greece when horses, griffins, centaurs, or whatever, were found to relax people. Animal Assisted Therapy began in the 1800s and some psychiatrists used animals to comfort mental-health patients in the 1960s.
I get it. Petting a dog is nearly as relaxing as watching Vlad shred your seatmate’s face, but why should people be allowed to bring pets aboard an airplane? Consider your pet’s worst behavior at home, then give it amphetamines. That’s what the pet will be like in an enclosed space at 30,000 feet.
Most airlines allow emotional support animals to accompany people who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, mood disorder, panic attacks, phobias and other mental health issues. What hasn’t been diagnosed is the animal. What if it has a panic attack? Or a fear of toddlers?
Whew. Toddlerphobia. I have it.
But dogs aren’t the only emotional support animals allowed on flights. Other animals have included ducks, lizards, turkeys, kangaroos, squirrels, domestic pigs and ponies.
Here’s a thought: If your mental state is such you can’t board an airplane without a pony, stay at home until you can. Or choose a different mode of transportation, such as a truck with a trailer that’s designed for, you know, ponies.
Mental illness is serious business (one in five Americans experience a mental health issue each year), but so are dogs that eat faces, especially since approximately 700 animals are allowed daily on Delta flights alone. And this is without real proof the animals do anything on the airplane other than poop.
Yale researcher Molly Crossman published in The Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2016 claiming the evidence for animals soothing “psychological distress” is slim at best.
Marlin Jackson is currently suing Delta and Vlad’s owner for allowing the beast onto the plane. Can’t say I blame him.
Jason Offutt’s latest book, “Chasing American Monsters,” is available at his website, www.jasonoffutt.com.