A Florida college student is considering suing an airline after being misinformed about whether her emotional support hamster could board the plane. The student says the airline suggested she flush it down the toilet.
Belen Aldecosea, a 21-year-old student from Miami Beach, Florida, was flying home from college to deal with an urgent medical issue. According to a report by Miami Herald, Aldecosea says that she called Spirit Airlines twice to ensure that she could bring Pebbles, her pet dwarf hamster, on the plane. After confirmation that Pebbles could indeed accompany her on the flight, Aldecosea proceeded to go to the Baltimore airport. However, when Aldecosea arrived at the airport, Spirit Airlines refused to allow Pebbles on the plane, and a Spirit agent allegedly told Aldecosea to either flush the hamster down the toilet or let it loose outside.
Running out of options after hours of indecision, unsuccessful attempts to rent a car, and being told that Pebbles could not be put in cargo hold, Aldecosea decided to flush the hamster down the toilet. Aldecosea said she felt that this was the more humane option as opposed to letting Pebbles loose in the cold, only to die getting hit by a car. “I didn’t have any other options,” she told the Herald.
“She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet,” Aldecosea said about the event. “I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
An airline spokesman told Associated Press that while Aldecosea was in fact misinformed in regards to bringing on the pet rodent, the airline denies that a Spirit agent recommended flushing her pet in an airport restroom.
“Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines,” spokesman Dombrowski wrote in an email. “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.”
According to USA Today, Aldecosea already has a replacement for Pebbles.
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