Airline User Flushes Rejected 'Emotional Support Hamster' Down Toilet

Belen Aldecosea said she flushed her emotional support hamster down the toilet after Spirit Airlines refused her furry pet on the flight

Belen Aldecosea said she flushed her emotional support hamster down the toilet after Spirit Airlines refused her furry pet on the flight

A spokesman for Spirit Airlines, a low-priced carrier based in Miramar, Florida, confirmed that a Spirit employee incorrectly told Aldecosea that she could bring her hamster on the flight, but denied that an employee told Aldecosea to flush the hamster or harm her in any way.

Aldecosea said she called the airline twice to make sure her hamster would be allowed on her November 21 flight home from Baltimore to South Florida.

A Spirit representative denied the claim that an employee told Aldecosea to flush her hamster down the toilet.

But when Aldecosea arrived at the Baltimore airport, Spirit refused to allow the animal board.

Aldecosea eventually flushed Pebbles down the toilet after she was unable to find someone to take the hamster or rent a auto to drive instead of flying, the attorney says. It was then, Aldecosea insists, that an employee suggested letting Pebbles go free outside or flushing her down the toilet.

Aldecosea skipped her flight and tried to rent a vehicle instead, but said she was too young to rent one.

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Aldecosea said she felt she didn't have another choice.

Spirit accepted Belen had been given misinformation, but a spokesman added: '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'.

Spirit denies an employee ever told the student to flush the hamster, according to the Miami Herald.

Her attorney, Adam Goodman, said he has been inundated with calls since news of Pebble's untimely death broke.

The controversy follows a recent incident where a woman unsuccessfully tried to bring a peacock on a United Airlines flight after claiming it was an emotional-support animal. But Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman with the U.S Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), said the TSA doesn't have an issue with carry-on hamsters.

She says on both occasions she was assured her furry companion was fine to fly. She considered a Greyhound trip, but that would've been taken days.

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She eventually made a decision to flush the hamster, believing it to be more humane that leaving it to die outside, according to the Herald.

"I didn't have any other options", she told the paper.

Individual airlines can set whatever guidelines they wish in terms of what pets they do and do not allow on board. Federal regulations allow them, as long as they are not too big or exotic - but airlines can ask for a doctor's note verifying that the passenger needs the animal.

"Rodents of any kind are not allowed on board for health and safety reasons".

While guide dogs have been occasional flyers for years, there have recently been a surge of emotional-support animals.

It has not been the best of weeks for Spirit Airlines.

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