A Florida veteran says he was kicked off an American Airlines flight in Miami because of his service dog.
Kevin Crowell, who served in the military for more than 20 years, now suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder and numerous combat injuries. His service dog Bella helps him cope, he told WAWS.
Last week, when the retired Sergeant First Class boarded an American Airlines plane from Miami to Key West for an event held by the Wounded Warrior project, an airline representative allegedly told him that “pets” weren’t allowed in the bulkheading.
"The flight attendant told me she said the policy states no pets in bulkheading, and I said, 'Again, Bella's not a pet. She's a service dog. According to the law, she meets the requirements of a service dog," Crowell said.
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He also insists an airline rep. told him ahead of the flight that Bella could sit in the bulkhead area.
Flight attendants could have moved Crowell to another seat, if the issue was the fact that he was sitting behind the bulkhead and had less space than required for a service dog, but instead he was removed from the plane.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act service animals are permitted to travel with their owners and their owners aren’t required to disclose any of their disabilities.
“They had no idea that part of my spine was replaced from roadside bombs,” Crowell said. “They don’t have an idea that my shoulder was destroyed in Iraq. So now I rely on her for a lot of things. Often times I physically lean on her to help me through the day."
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"I didn't join the military in the 80s and retire in 2013 to be discriminated against, especially in the United States," he added.
A representative told his wife Lisa Crowell that she is looking into the incident and that training for boarding practices will be discussed in Miami.