ORLANDO, Fla. - A passenger who thought a service dog was taking up too much space on his flight punched the animal and its deaf, pregnant owner, Orlando police tell CBS affiliate WKMG.
Hazel Ramirez, who is deaf and 20 weeks pregnant, said she was on a Frontier Airlines flight from Colorado Springs to Orlando International Airport on Thursday with her husband, Mathew Silvay, who is also deaf, their two daughters and their 8-month-old Great Dane Zariel, the station reports. The family was traveling to Orlando for their gender reveal party.
Ramirez told WKMG the service dog slept through the duration of the flight, then woke up and stretched when the plane landed. Police said Timothy Manley thought the dog was taking up too much space, became enraged and punched the animal with a closed fist, causing her to yelp, shake her head and hide under a seat.
Ramirez said she and her husband were appalled, and Silvay told him never to touch dogs or service animals. The argument continued until the plane taxied to the gate. Before police arrived, Manley allegedly punched Ramirez in the stomach and Silvay tackled him to keep him from evading police. Manley also allegedly pushed Ramirez' young daughters, she told the station.
"Unfortunately the man [was] determined to leave so he ran and punched my belly then pushed my two daughters, they fell and cried so hard," Ramirez said.
Officials from Frontier Airlines said service animals are permitted on all flights as long as they are certified and properly harnessed.
"The safety and security of our passengers is our top priority at Frontier. Upon deplaning Flight 1752 from Colorado Springs to Orlando, there was a confrontation between passengers. Police were immediately notified to aid in de-escalating the situation," a Frontier spokesman said.
The case is being turned over to the FBI to determine whether charges will be filed, the station reports.