Mirna Gonzalez’s five-year-old daughter Gabriella was left needing facial reconstructive surgery after the animal attacked her at Portland International Airport in the US.
The lawsuit, filed on Monday in Multnomah County, Oregon, by Mirna on behalf of her daughter claims the dog’s owner, Michelle Brannan, should have known her animal had “vicious propensities”.
She also said Alaska Airlines who she was flying with had allowed Brannan to bring a dangerous dog into the gate waiting area without being confined or trained.
According to the suit — worth $1.1 million (£800,000) — the attack took place on December 18, 2017, while Gabriella was waiting with her family for a flight to Texas.
Brannan entered with her pit bull, which was not kept in a crate, kennel, or other secure container, according to the lawsuit, obtained by US media.
Gabriella was allegedly given permission by Brannan to pet her dog.
But while petting the animal, it became aggressive and bit her, causing serious injuries.
The lawsuit says: “As a result of the incident, Gabriella Gonzalez suffered injury to the muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and soft tissue of her face, eye, eyelid, tear duct and lip, as well as emotional trauma.”
It notes Gabriella was left with permanent scarring and “required surgery to repair complex facial lacerations and a damaged tear duct, and has incurred medical expenses and will incur future medical expenses.”
Brannan hold told airline staff her pit bull was an emotional support animal and went through ticketing at Alaska Airlines.
“She suffered injury to the muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and soft tissue of her face, eye, eyelid, tear duct and lip, as well as emotional trauma”
The Port of Portland — which oversees the airport, felt Brannan’s dog should have been in a crate or kennel.
Emotional support animals aren’t required by the airline to be in crates, but on its website, it says pets must be leashed and under the owner’s control.
Speaking to US media, a spokesman for Alaska Airlines said “it would be inappropriate” for them to comment at this time.
Port of Portland spokeswoman Kama Simonds said the Port may ask a traveller if their dog is a trained service animal and can ask what service the dog provides.
“The traveller need only answer those questions and we’re required to accept the answer,” she said.
Chad Stavley, the Gonzalez’ attorney, said Brannan was reportedly carrying what looked like a form letter from her therapist, but it wasn’t specific.
“It didn’t say what kind of animal,” he said. “It was just a generic ‘animal’.”
The suit claims Brannan is liable for all damages incurred during the incident and is seeking $100,000 (£75,000) for past and future medical costs and $1 million £752,000 for the child’s pain and suffering.
It isn’t known what happened to the dog.