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Monroeville woman quick to come to defense of man, service dog on flight

| Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Mary Elko Comfort of Monroeville said she forged a friendship with a Long Island man after US Airways would not let him fly with his dog last week.

US Airways sent Comfort a $100 voucher after she walked off a flight from Philadelphia to Long Island in protest, followed by other passengers. Comfort said she spoke her mind to airline employees when they escorted fellow passenger Albert Rizzi off the plane.

US Airways spokesman Andrew Christie said Rizzi disrupted the flight and that he refused to secure his service dog at his feet.

“As a result of his disruptive behavior, the crew returned to the gate and removed Mr. Rizzi and his service dog from the flight,” Christie said in a written statement.

The flight was canceled, US Airways confirmed. Passengers were taken by bus to Long Island.

Comfort said she was seated next to Rizzi and his seeing eye dog, Doxy, on the flight. There was no seat in front of Rizzi, so Comfort said she allowed the dog to lay between her and the seat in front of her. When the dog pushed his body out to rest his head at Rizzi's feet, the flight attendant ordered him to “stow” his dog, Comfort said.

Rizzi said Wednesday he could not keep the dog out of the aisle. Rizzi was escorted off the plane.Meanwhile, he said, Comfort was yelling at US Airways employees.

“You know us from Monroeville, we're not quiet,” Comfort said.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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