One college student has come forward to accuse Spirit Airlines, the budget travel provider, of demanding her to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet. Because airlines are cracking down on strange and unusual “emotional support” animals (we ran a story about how one woman tried to sneak her emotional support peacock onto the plane), Spirit Airlines would not allow this student to have her hamster on board.
Now, 21-year-old Belen Aldecosea wants the world to know the injustice she suffered while flying Spirit.
Because she even boarded her November 21 flight from Baltimore to South Florida, she contacted Spirit Airlines and told them the exhaustive list of reasons why she needed her hamster with her during the trip. She said that her dwarf hamster, Pebbles, was essential to her wellbeing and helped her endure the stresses of being in the air.
At the time, the airline told the young college student that it was fine for her to bring her hamster onto the plane. But that customer service representative did not seem to have all the details because something completely different occurred on the day of her flight.
As she was boarding, the airline refused to let her on the plane with her hamster Pebbles in tow. Aldecosea felt betrayed. And she did not have any other solution. Her family and friends were hours away in Florida, and she didn’t have anyone in Baltimore to help her.
That’s when a Spirit Airlines employee suggested that Aldecosea flush Pebbles down the toilet. Either that or set him free at the airport.
This suggestion brought the college student to tears. She missed her flight and then tried to rent a car for the 15 or more hour drive from Baltimore to Florida. She was desperate. But she would never flush Pebbles, her emotional support hamster, down the toilet.
But that did not work either. She was too young to rent a car. She was struck. And then she did what she felt was the most humane choice.
“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.”
She was about to let the hamster out in the wild but worried that the poor animal would be gobbled up by a predator or die of the cold.
“I didn’t have any other options.” She flushed Pebbles.
Spirit Airlines denies Aldecosea’s claims, which came months after the incident.
Company spokesman Derek Dombrowski told Fox News that no employee would ever suggest killing a pet so a passenger could board a plane. He did admit that a rodent was not an acceptable emotional support animal.
“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. It is incredibly disheartening to hear this guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life,” Dombrowski told Fox News.