Service dog bites American Airlines employee, DIA passenger

DENVER (KDVR) — A service dog reportedly bit two people at Denver International Airport last month and is now in quarantine.

According to DIA’s media team, a passenger with a service dog was involved in an incident with an American Airlines employee. The media team directed FOX31 to contact American Airlines or Denver police for further information.

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According to Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment, the bites were from a Belgian malinois named Bella. The incident allegedly occurred at about 11:15 a.m. on April 26. Bella was subsequently placed on a bite quarantine for 10 days at the Denver Animal Shelter.

Bella will be released on Monday. Because it is an open investigation, the public health department could not provide the owner’s name but said the bites were to an airline employee and a passenger waiting for a flight.

Both bite injuries are considered a level 4 on the Ian Dunbar Dog Bite Scale. Since it is a multiple-bite incident, the total incident is considered level 5, but each victim suffered a single bite, independently rated as level 4.

According to DPHE, the airline employee was bitten on the lip/face and the waiting passenger was bitten on the forearm.

“We were told by Denver International Airport personnel that the owner claimed the dog was a service dog. Our Denver Animal Protection officer did not have that conversation with the owner himself upon impounding the dog, so we can’t say whether or not the dog is a service animal,” said Tammy Vigil, a DPHE spokesperson. “That said, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, ‘service animals in training’ are afforded the same legal protections as fully-trained service animals and generally need to be considered the same in places like the airport and airlines.”

American Airlines had not provided FOX31 with any comment on the incident as of about 4 p.m. on Friday. According to the health department, the investigation is ongoing.

Details about the circumstances leading up to the bite and other information surrounding the incident were not available on Friday.

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