LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Marine Corps veteran says his service dog was not allowed to accompany him aboard an American Airlines flight out of Los Angeles International Airport.
"His expressions are priceless. What I love about him best are his eyebrows. He'll wink at you sometimes," said Capt. Jason Haag of the U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) of his German shepherd named Axel.
In videos posted online, Haag and his family call Axel "a life saver."
"Axel has saved our family," said Haag's wife, Elizabeth, of the dog which won a "Service Dog of the Year" award over the weekend.
But on a trip home to Virginia on Sunday, Haag says Axel was denied entry on the flight despite having the right documentation that shows that Axel is a service dog and despite a successful flight days earlier.
Soon, the story went public.
People flooded social media sending messages of support to Haag and messages of anger to American Airlines with posts like: "Seems your standards aren't exactly enforced across the board. You should be ashamed!"
On Monday night, CBS Los Angeles received a statement from "NCIS" star Pauley Perrette who was a presenter at that dog awards show at the Beverly Hilton.
"Ironic that part of what we were advocating for at the fundraiser is for service/military dogs to be flown home with their human partners, as many are left behind. This is so sad and upsetting," Perrette said.
American Airlines has already admitted it was a big mistake and issued a public apology that said:
"We take these matters very seriously and are looking into what exactly occurred. We have apologized to Capt. Haag and his family, and are very appreciative of his service to our country."
Haag and his family are urging all airlines to step up training to better serve veterans.
The Haags have returned home and posted the following to Facebook: "Thank you all for your support! We are tired, need to unwind and try to get some rest."
The American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards show will air Oct. 30 on the Hallmark Channel. Axel's full story is expected to be featured then.
for more features.