But clubbing with laptop does much less damage than dogs’ teeth & jaws
MIAMI, LOS ANGELES, WASHINGTON D.C.––Demonstrating the axiom that pit bull advocates are often as explosively violent as pit bulls themselves, International Bully Kennel Club manager Tiffany Flores McLemore on July 23, 2019 became an instant social media celebrity when fellow airline passengers caught her tantrum on cell phone video.
First McLemore loudly accused her husband Guillermo Ocampo of looking at other women during passenger boarding on an American Airlines flight from Miami to Los Angeles. When Ocampo tried to change seats, McLemore chased him up the aisle and hit him over the head from behind with a laptop computer.
The laptop bounced off Ocampo’s back and shoulders, witnesses told Madeleine Marr of the Miami Herald, “striking a flight attendant and passenger in the vicinity,” Marr wrote.
Registry for 20 “bully” breeds
Ocampo and McLemore, also known as Tiffany Flores, were removed from the flight, which was to have been their last leg of a visit to Ecuador. Ocampo reportedly took a later flight home. McLemore’s whereabouts after the incident were said to be unknown.
McLemore was not charged, a Miami-Dade Police Department spokesperson told media, because none of the alleged victims filed a complaint against her.
The International Bully Kennel Club maintains a registry for 20 “bully” breeds, including multiple pit bull and bull dog variants, Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Presa Canario, and Rottweiler.
Association of Flight Attendants asks feds for help
The McLemore incident upstaged the second appeal in two years from the Association of Flight Attendants to the U.S. Department of Transportation for stronger protection from dangerous dogs aboard aircraft, issued the same day, July 23, 2019, in Washington D.C.
The Association of Flight Attendants, a labor union representing nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines, asked the Department of Transportation to change rules that allow “emotional support” animals to fly in passenger cabins with as little restriction as the Americans With Disabilities Act allows airlines to impose on actual trained service dogs.
“We need action now!”
“For years, the Association of Flight Attendants has supported the role that trained animals can provide to passengers in the cabin,” the organization said in a prepared statement, “but we have also called for action in regards to setting standards for emotional support animals.
“We need the Department of Transportation to take action now,” the Association of Flight Attendants emphasized. “This is fundamentally about maintaining safety, health and security for passengers and crew, while ensuring accessibility for those who need it.”
The first Association of Flight Attendants appeal to the Department of Transportation, issued in September 2018, mentioned membership survey data finding that:
- 82% of flight attendants strongly believe a consistent policy throughout the airline industry is needed;
- 62% of flight attendants reported working a flight during which an emotional support animal caused a disruption in the cabin;
- 53% of the disruptions included aggressive or threatening behavior by the animal, including snapping at flight attendants;
- 43% of the disruptions include animals failing to fit under a seat or on the lap of a passenger, roaming the cabin, or barking throughout the flight;
- 26% of the disruptions included emotional support animals defecating or urinating in the cabin; and
- 13% of the disruptions included conflicts between passengers caused by the presence or behavior of an emotional support animal.
Flight attendant bitten
The Association of Flight Attendants’ July 23, 2019 statement came 24 hours after a flight attendant, who was not named, suffered bites requiring five stitches from a so-called “emotional support dog,” whose breed was not disclosed, on American Airlines Flight 3506.
The flight was operated by the American Airlines subsidiary Envoy Air, traveling from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Recounted New York Post reporter Natalie Musumeci, “The flight attendant was examined by medical personnel when the flight touched down at the airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, an American Airlines spokesperson said. When he returned to Dallas-Fort Worth, he needed to get five stitches, according to the spokesperson.
“The airline rep noted that the carrier last tightened its policies on service and emotional support animals in March 2019,” Musumeci said.
Added Dawn Gilbertson of USA Today, “Airlines have been tightening their policies in the wake of an increasing number of incidents involving in-flight animals and an overall increase in the number of pets brought on board.
“American Airlines,” Gilbertson noted, now “limits emotional support animals to cats and dogs, and requires a veterinary health form with vaccination details, its second revision in as many years.”
Delta banned pit bulls
Delta Air Lines on June 22, 2018 barred pit bulls from passenger cabins entirely, after multiple pit bull-related incidents.
“We must err on the side of safety,” Delta told media. “Most recently, two Delta employees were bitten by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk.”
The two Delta employees were reportedly bitten during the boarding process for Delta flight 295 from Atlanta to Narita, Japan, the international airport serving Tokyo.
Passenger mauled in Atlanta
ANIMALS 24-7 on June 4, 2017 spotlighted what appears to be the most severe attack yet by an alleged service pit bull aboard an airliner––a Delta flight––in an article entitled How the Americans with Disabilities Act has become the “Pit Bull Pushers Act”, and followed up on May 31, 2019 in Will lawsuits slow use of dogs as “ambassadors” for dangerous breeds?
Victim Marlin Tremaine Jackson “bled so profusely that the entire row of seats had to be removed from the airplane,” according to lawsuits filed against both Delta Airlines and pit bull owner Ronald Kevin Mundy Jr.
Attorney J. Ross Massey, representing Jackson, explained that Jackson was trying to fly from Atlanta to San Diego.
Trapped in window seat
Assigned a window seat in Row 31 on the left side of the plane, Jackson discovered that Mundy “was sitting in the middle seat with his dog in his lap. According to witnesses,” Massey said in June 2017, “the approximately 50-pound dog growled at Jackson soon after he took his seat. The dog continued to act in a strange manner as Jackson attempted to buckle his seatbelt. The growling increased and the dog lunged for Jackson’s face. The dog began biting Jackson, who could not escape due to his position against the plane’s window.
“The dog was pulled away but broke free from Mundy’s grasp,” Massey continued, “and attacked Jackson a second time. Jackson’s injuries required immediate transport to the emergency room via ambulance, where he received 28 stitches.”
Pit bull misrepresented
The Atlanta Police Department reported at the time that Mundy was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps “who advised that the dog was issued to him for support,” wrote Kelly Yamanouchi of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The U.S. Marine Corps, however, has banned pit bulls from bases since 2009.
The Atlanta police report of the attack on Jackson identified the dog as “chocolate lab/pointer mix,” but photos obtained by ANIMALS 24-7 indicate the dog was a pit bull or pit mix.
5-year-old mauled in Portland airport
A second severe attack of note by an alleged “emotional support” pit bull came at the Portland International Airport in Portland, Oregon, on December 18, 2017.
“Mirna Gonzalez had just stepped away for a moment to buy a coffee, while she and her children waited for an Alaska Airlines flight to Texas,” recounted Meagan Flynn of the Washington Post. Her 5-year-old daughter, Gabriella, was supposed to be sitting at the gate with her older brother. But while her mother was away, Gabriella asked if she could pet a dog, a pit bull.”
“The pit bull severed her tear duct and disfigured her upper lip, leaving a chunk of it missing.”
Rule change does not cover terminals
Noted Flynn, “Alaska Airlines was among the airlines that changed their policy on emotional support animals in October 2018. The airline’s new rule requires that owners keep their dog or cat — the only animals allowed aboard — in a carrier or on a leash at all times and provide 48-hour notice and appropriate documentation ahead of their flights.”
But the new rule still does not protect passengers in airline terminals.
Another child was attacked by an alleged “emotional support dog” on February 23, 2018 while boarding a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Portland, Oregon, but reportedly suffered only a “minor injury.”
Misuse of Americans with Disabilities Act & Air Carrier Access Act
The attacks on Jackson, Gabrielle Gonzales, and the unidentified child in Phoenix renewed attention throughout the airline industry to widespread misuse of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Air Carrier Access Act to force dogs, especially pit bulls, into places and situations in which, for reasons of protecting public safety, dogs would normally not be allowed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act allows business representatives to ask only two questions of a person who demands access to premises with a purported service dog: “Is the dog required because of a disability?” and “What work or task has the dog been trained to do?”
The Air Carrier Access Act extends the definition of a service dog to include dogs kept for “emotional support.”
At least 22 dogs falsely represented as “service” animals have killed at least four people and have disfigured more than 20 people since 2011. Fourteen of the dogs were pit bulls, three were Rottweilers, two were German shepherds, and three were dogs of undisclosed breed.