(WFLA) An Iraq war veteran says American Airlines wouldn't allow him to bring his service dog on the plane, even though he called and checked ahead of time.
Josh Rivera says he went to Tampa International Airport on Thursday with his dog, a black lab named Brady. The pair had just graduated from Southeastern Guide Dogs, and it was Rivera's first public experience with a service animal.
The vet says he called a week ahead to find out what he needed to do for the flight back home to California from Tampa.
"At the gate I checked in, and notified them that I had a service animal with me, and they said there are no problems," Rivera said.
However, a problem soon arose.
"They called me five or ten minutes later back to the counter and they told me I wouldn't be able to get on the aircraft because they believed I had an emotional support animal, and that they weren't allowed to fly on the plane," said Rivera.
An American Airlines spokesperson told News Channel 8 by phone: “Department of Transportation requires any passenger to advise the airline ahead of time and provide proper documentation for the service animal … Emotional support dog is not considered a service dog. It requires a different type of documentation.”
Rivera disputes that Brady is an emotional support dog, and says he tried to explain that to American Airlines supervisor Mike Stafford.
“He wasn’t listening,” says Rivera. “He wouldn’t have it. He said that the animal wouldn’t be able to get on the plane with me, and I was prevented from boarding the plane.”
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