- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spirit Airlines kicked a U.S. Army veteran off a Houston-bound flight Saturday after fellow passengers complained about her emotional-support dog.

Janae Fowler boarded the flight in Denver with her boyfriend and her pit bull/labrador mix, Ziggy Marley, after a trip to visit some Army friends. She told a local ABC News affiliate that she travels with Ziggy often and has never had a problem before.

“The flight out was great. Spirit was good to us all the way out to Denver,” Ms. Fowler’s boyfriend, Cecil Mullenweg, told ABC News.

But while boarding their flight back to Houston, an attendant apparently took issue with Ziggy.

“Basically she said, ‘Oh, hell no,’” Ms. Fowler recalled. “I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ She said, ‘Is that a pit bull?’ And I said, ‘Yes, ma’am, it’s a pit bull and a chocolate lab.’”

Ms. Fowler said the attendant told her that an emotional-support animal is not a service animal, and that a service animal is for someone with “real disabilities.”

“I felt insulted because there are veterans in the world that have disabilities you can’t see,” Ms. Fowler said.

The couple said Spirit Airlines then put them on another flight with a different airline back to Houston later that night.

In a statement Tuesday, an airline spokesperson disputed Ms. Fowler’s version of events.

“According to the report from the flight attendants: The dog was very aggressive and growling at other customers as Ms. Fowler and the dog were boarding the aircraft,” the statement said. “Once Ms. Fowler was in her seat, the dog continued to be unruly. So much so that she had to wrap the dogs leash several times around her arm just to keep the dog close to her.

Ms. Fowler was asked to control her dog, or she would be asked to leave the aircraft,” the statement continued. “A few minutes later several other customers approached our flight attendants and reported that the dog continued to be aggressive and had a foul odor. The customer sitting next to Ms. Fowler complained that the dog was taking up some of his space in his seat. The complaining reached a point that it was then decided it would be best to put Ms. Fowler and her dog on another flight to Houston. Spirit paid full fare for her to fly another airline to accommodate Ms. Fowler and her dog.”

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