Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

I fancy some people -- even many people -- would prefer not to sit next to a dog on a plane. Just, you know, in case.

Dogs are lovely. But planes are claustrophobic places and if I was a dog, I'm not sure I'd like them either.

Which takes me to the extremely sad case of Marlin Termaine Jackson from Alabama. He was, as far as reports have it, sitting quietly in his window seat on Delta Flight 1430 due to leave Atlanta for San Diego on Sunday.

Soon afterwards, he was in hospital with severe injuries to his face.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, in the seat next to him was a man with a so-called emotional support dog. The dog bit Jackson during the boarding process.

Thus far, it's unclear why this might have happened. The dog's owner, Ronald Kevin Mundy Jr, is a Marine Corps vet. No charges have currently been filed. However, a police report said that Jackson was "in stable condition, but [suffered] severe injury to the face due to several dog bites."

What are you supposed to do when you're seated next to a dog that might not be under control? Is there anything you can do but hope? Delta didn't immediately respond to a request for enlightenment.

A woman on a recent American Airlines flight claimed she was ultimately thrown off a flight after she asked not to be seated next to a dog, because she was allergic to them.

In Delta's case, its rules state that in order to fly with an emotional support animal -- which is free of charge -- "customers with mental health-related disabilities must provide a letter from their mental health professional to verify service, an emotional support animal/psychiatric assistance animal provides."

The rules add: "Emotional support animals are expected to respond to the direction of the owner."

But in these harassed flying times, how can airline staff be sure that a dog is going to behave, anymore than they can be sure a human passenger will?

Moreover, it's little surprise surely that getting a letter from your mental health professional might be extremely easy and have little or nothing to do with your actual mental health.

It seems many more people have cottoned on to this truth and may be taking advantage of it.

What, then, happened on Flight 1430? Why would this dog have lunged at Jackson? It may be what some dog-owners would call "one of those things." 

Still, a passenger on the flight, Bridget Maddox-Peoples, told Fox 5: "The gentleman's face was completely bloody. His shirt was covered in blood."

The dog was said be to some sort of lab mix and weighed around 50 lbs. It was reportedly seated in Mundy's lap. Which would have offered it relatively easy access to Jackson's face, one imagines. It's not as if airline seats provide much room for humans, never mind dogs.

Delta offered Fox 5 this statement: "Local law enforcement cleared the dog, and the dog and its owner were re-accommodated on a later flight. The dog will fly in a kennel."

Fox 5 reported that Mundy was seen cradling his dog afterwards and heard fearing that it would have to be put down.

Perhaps it would also be worth worrying about how much damage was done to Jackson.

Published on: Jun 6, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.