Friday, February 09, 2018
A woman in Florida says an airline told her to flush her hamster down an airport toilet because the emotional support rodent wasn't allowed to fly with her. The Miami Herald reports Belen Aldecosea flew home from college to South Florida, having twice called Spirit Airlines to ensure she could bring Pebbles, her pet dwarf hamster with her on the flight. But when Aldecosea arrived at Baltimore airport, Spirit refused to allow the animal onboard. The 21-year-old told the paper she flushed Pebbles at an airline employee's suggestion, after running out of other options.
When Aldecosea showed up that day, she said, the first Spirit agent checked her emotional support pet in with no problem. Pebbles was in a small cage that fit regulations for carry-on luggage.
But as she approached the security checkpoint, a second Spirit employee chased her down, hollering that rodents weren't allowed. Aldecosea said Spirit agents told her she couldn't put the hamster in the cargo hold either.
After hectic discussions, an outraged Aldecosea accepted a flight later that day. She said she had no friends or family in town to pick up Pebbles. It was then, Aldecosea insists, that an employee suggested letting Pebbles go free outside or flushing her down the toilet.
Panicked and needing to return home promptly to deal with a medical issue, Aldecosea was unable to rent a car and agonised for hours.
"She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet," Aldecosea said. "I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall."
A spokesman for Spirit acknowledged the airline mistakenly told Aldecosea that Pebbles was allowed. But he denied that a Spirit employee recommended flushing her pet in an airport restroom.
"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," spokesman Derek Dombrowski said.
But Aldecosea said she's considering suing Spirit over the conflicting instructions that pressured her into making the decision.
She said she considered it more humane to end her life right away, and not let her run around scared in the cold, only to die getting hit by a car.
"I didn't have any other options," she said.
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