Student Claims Spirit Airlines Forced Her To Drown 'Emotional Support' Hamster

Belen Aldecosea

Belen Aldecosea was preparing to fly home to Fort Lauderdale from Baltimore to deal with a medical issue and called Spirit Airlines to make sure her dwarf hamster, Pebbles, was okay to fly, the Miami Herald reports. The airline said yes, according to the Miami Herald. Aldecosea and Pebbles were allowed to check in for their flight without a hitch (emotional support animals are technically allowed to fly at the discretion of the airline in question).

Regardless, Aldecosea was in a hard position; desperate to fly home to attend to a medical issue, with no friends or family in Baltimore to take care of her pet.

The employee allegedly suggested Aldecosea, who was studying at Wilson College 100 miles away, set the hamster free outside or flush it down the toilet, according to the Florida-based attorney. "It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet", Aldecosea told the newspaper. "I was emotional. I was crying".

Aldecosea is now considering filing a lawsuit against the company for the alleged miscommunication, which resulted in her flushing Pebbles, which she says her doctor designated as an emotional support animal.

In recent weeks, airlines have tightened restrictions on animals allowed on flights after rising accounts of unusual emotional support animals, including a peacock and sheep. "This wasn't a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers", her attorney added of the November 21 incident.

The animal helped comfort her before she knew the growth was benign, especially since she didn't know many people in Philadelphia, Goodman said.

A spokesman for Spirit admitted that Aldecosea was at first mistakenly told Pebbles could fly, but denied an employee recommended the hamster be flushed.

She declined the offer of a travel voucher offered by the airline. The airline vehemently denies that the toilet option was suggested.

"She was scared. I was scared".

"After researching this incident, we can say confidently that 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 said in a statement to Business Insider. Which is true, so don't flush her down a toilet MY GOSH.

Aldecosea told the Herald she made a decision to come forward after hearing the peacock story.

Hamsters are not prohibited by the Transportation Security Administration, but it would have had to be taken out of its holder and carried through the security checkpoint.

Most major USA airlines, however, don't allow rodents on flights over concerns about health and safety.

The final decision to send Pebbles to a watery grave seemed more humane, she said, than letting the animal free to potentially starve to death or get struck by a vehicle.

Goodman said this obviously wasn't what Aldecosea wanted to do, but having adults tell her it was OK compounded the situation.

"Her description of the scene is flat-out horrific: "[Pebbles] was scared.

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