Disabled vet banned from bringing service dog on American Airlines flight in Miami

Kevin Crowell says he was kicked off plane

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MIAMI - It's a bond unlike any other.

Kevin Crowell and his dog, Bella, have been together through military banquets, award ceremonies and even graduations.

Bella came into Kevin's life after he served more than 20 years in the Army.

The retired sergeant first class said he saw countless hours of combat and now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

"They have no idea that part of my spine was replaced from roadside bombs," said Crowell. "They don't have an idea that my shoulder was destroyed in Iraq. So now, I rely on her for a lot of things, and oftentimes I physically lean on her to help me through the day."

Last week, Crowell and his family tried to travel to a wounded warrior's project event in Key West.

Crowell said, before the trip, American Airlines staffers told him Bella could fly with him in the bulkhead area, the seats with more leg room, as long as it is not in the emergency exit section.

Instead, he said airline personnel stopped them before they could board in Miami.

"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,'" said Crowell.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 guarantees that service animals can travel with their owners, but Crowell said workers asked the group to get off the plane.

"I was beyond humiliated," he said. "My wife and I had to walk back down the jetway past all the other passengers in complete, just, humiliation."

The couple said they rented a car and came back to Jacksonville.

His wife, Lisa Crowell, called American Airlines and spoke to a representative who said she is looking into the case and will go over training practices with the Miami staff.

"I didn't join the military in the 80's and retire in 2013 to be discriminated against, especially in the United States," said Crowell.

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