A student has claimed that an airline made her flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet.
21-year-old Belen Aldecosea of Miami Beach told the Miami Herald that Spirit Airlines refused to let her carry her hamster Pebbles on-board her flight to South Florida, even though she had reportedly called the airline twice to confirm that her emotional support pet was allowed with her. When she arrived at the airport, Spirit refused to let her fly with her animal.
Stuck at the airport, Aldecosea tried to rent a car but proved unsuccessful due to the busy holiday season and Aldecosea not being old enough to rent a car regardless.
It was then that an airline representative reportedly suggested she flush Pebbles down the toilet. Distraught, she did exactly that.
“She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet,” Aldecosea told the Miami Herald. “I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
She considered letting Pebbles run free outside but decided it would be more humane to end her life immediately, instead of being left to die in the cold:
“I didn’t have any other options.”
Though Spirit had confirmed that they gave Aldecosea the wrong information regarding her hamster, they deny that a Spirit employee suggested she flush Pebbles away.
Spirit Spokesman Derek Dombrowski said in an email:
“Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines.
To be clear, at no point did any of our agents suggest this guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal.”
Aldecosea has declined a voucher for a free flight from the airline, and is now considering filing a lawsuit against Spirit. Though there are parallels between this story and the one of an emotional support peacock being refused travel, Aldecosea’s South Florida attorney Adam Goodman postulates that this case is different.
“This wasn’t a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers. This was a tiny cute harmless hamster that could fit in the palm of her hand.”
Pebbles was a doctor certified comfort animal, which Aldecosea purchased after the stress of a cancer scare whilst at college.
Feature image via South China Morning News