Army veteran says American mistreated him and his service dog

A U.S. Army veteran says American mistreated him and his service dog

Sergeant First Class Kevin Crowell, a U.S. Army veteran, is accusing American Airlines of lying” about how company employees mistreated him and his certified service dog, Bella.

Army veteran says American mistreated him and his service dog

Sgt. Crowell standing next to a memorial dedicated to his fellow comrades. (Photo: Kevin Crowell)

Sgt. Crowell served in Iraq as a scout sniper, where five of his buddies were killed by a roadside bomb. Presently, Sgt. Crowell is living in Jacksonville, FL and is trying to deal with PTSD.

Bella is a 95-pound golden retriever who helps Sgt. Crowell deal with panic attacks.

Sgt. Crowell says he was boarding a flight in Miami bound for Key West to attend a conference on dealing with PTSD.

Sgt. Crowell says he called American in advance to ask for a roomier bulkhead seat for his service dog. However, once aboard the aircraft, an American employee said that “pets” were not allowed, even though he had proper documentation to show that Bella was a service dog, Sgt. Crowell was then forced to deboard the aircraft.

After deboarding, Sgt. Crowell went to an airport agent where an employee started to pet Bella, even though Bella’s vest read “DO NOT PET.”

Sgt. Crowell and Bella. (Photo: Kevin Crowell)

Sgt. Crowell and Bella. (Photo: Kevin Crowell)

Sgt. Crowell was offered a seat on another flight but turned it down and decided to drive to Key West instead. After seeking legal advice from a Jacksonville attorney, Sgt. Crowell found out that he cannot sue an airline under the Americans Disabilities Act. Seeking other remedies, Sgt. Crowell then filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation.

American responded to the DOT complaint asking the complaint to be dismissed and by admitting that the special service code for service animals was “inadvertently” omitted from Sgt. Crowell’s record. American then denied that “at all all times relevant to the complaint, Mr. Crowell’s service dog was wearing a vest which read ‘Service Dog – Do Not Pet.”

Sgt. Crowell was offered a full refund but American Airlines never apologized to him.

It’s unfortunate that a U.S. veteran had to deal with employees who lacked knowledge of official airline policy. However, the biggest issue is that many folks buy fake vests to avoid paying additional fees for traveling with their dog.

I think offering a full refund was the right thing to do but an apology would have also gone a long way.


Source: First Coast News (Feb 20, 2015)

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2 Comments on Army veteran says American mistreated him and his service dog

  1. An emotional support animal is not a service animal, so it is possible that he did not have a service animal license for it (as one gets for a seeing eye dog for example), since it did not perform any specific function (like crossing the street), but “only” lent emotional support.
    Emotional support animals (ESA) are pets and are not allowed on planes for free, or in restaurants under any circumstances. Anyone can get an ESA certificate online, so it does not mean much – perhaps if there was a proper certification process in place, that would change things, but right now thousands of people do it just to travel with their pets, and because they know employees get confused between ESAs and service animals, the latter of which are allowed on planes and in restaurants by law.
    I have no doubt that the veteran in this case had a legitimate need for the dog to be with him for his PTSD, and perhaps he did have a service animal license after all, but that is not mentioned in the article. if he did not however, then we’re talking about a pet, not a “service animal”.

  2. As a veteran and still-serving Marine myself, I am so tired of hearing people say, “I’m a vet, and I was mistreated” or somehow claiming that being a veteran entitles someone to additional rights or sympathy. He was mistreated. Got it. He’s no different than anyone else with a “service animal”. Let’s please not continually reference someone’s rank or focus on their supposed service in the armed forces when discussing any purported wrong-doing.

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