Retired Iraqi War veteran Kevin Crowell found himself in an awkward position last week at Miami International Airport when an airline attendant informed him that he was unable to take Bella, his service dog, aboard the flight.
“She said the policy states no pets in bulk-heading,” states Crowell, despite the fact that Bella is much more than a pet. She is a lifeline.
Kevin Crowell spent 20 years serving his country as a combatant in Iraq, and during his tours he suffered multiple injuries, both physical and emotional.
“They have no idea that part of my spine was replaced from roadside bombs. They don’t have any 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.”
On his return trip from the Wounded Warrior’s project in Key West, even though he was allowed to travel with his dog on the flight down, Crowell was told to disembark from his flight back home, as his dog was in violation of the airline’s policies.
Despite the fact that The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ensures that no one will ever be deprived of their service animal, regardless of the venue’s policy on pets, American Airlines booted Crowell, Bella, and his family off the flight, forcing them to rent a car and drive up from Miami to Jacksonville. “I was beyond humiliated,” states Crowell.
After Crowell’s wife called the airline, she was assured that members of the Miami staff were going to be re-trained on the airline’s policies, and were also offered them a full refund for their travel costs. However, acts like this show how important it is to correct the misconceptions our society has about service dogs. You wouldn’t take away someone’s wheelchair or crutches, and as such, no one should ever have to go without their service dog.