Former Wilson College student: Airline told me to flush emotional support hamster down the toilet
A former Wilson College student said she flushed her emotional support hamster down the toilet after Spirit Airlines refused to let her bring her furry pet on the plane.
Belen Aldecosea, 21, of Miami Beach, Florida, told the Miami Herald that Spirit Airlines told her it was not a problem to bring her dwarf hamster, named Pebbles, on the flight when she asked. But it was a different story at the airport on November 21, 2017.
Aldecosea says when she arrived at BWI, the airline refused to let Pebbles on the plane. Aldecosea said she did not have many options since her family was in Florida and her friends were hours away. She says a Spirit employee suggested she either flush Pebbles down the toilet or let the animal free.
Aldecosea skipped her flight and tried to rent a car instead, but said she was too young to rent one. So 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.”
The student said she considered letting Pebbles run free outside but could not bear thinking of her hamster freezing to death or getting hit.
“I didn’t have any other options,” she said.
Pigs, ducks, peacocks — there’s no limit to what passengers have used as support animals.
Spirit Airlines spokesman Derek Dombrowski sent FOX43 a statement:
“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.
Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the Guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines. When the Guest appeared with the hamster at the airport, our agents offered and the Guest accepted an opportunity to take a later flight, so she had time to find other accommodations for the animal. Our records indicate the Guest took that later flight with no further incident.”
The Miami Herald noted that the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration was fine with hamsters on the flight, but airlines are allowed to choose if they want the rodents on board.
Aldecosea said Pebbles was a doctor-approved emotional support animal that helped her when she developed a growth in her neck while at school in Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The student said she bought Pebbles for some company.
“She (Pebbles) was so loving. It was like she knew I needed somebody,” Aldecosea said.
Aldecosea, who now attends the Texas State University, said she was considering legal action against Spirit due to the airline “pressuring her into making an anguished decision with a pet certified by her doctor as an emotional support animal.”
Her attorney, Adam Goodman said this case was different than the woman who made headlines last week after a United Airlines flight refused her request to bring her emotional support peacock on a flight.
“This wasn’t a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers. This was a tiny cute harmless hamster that could fit in the palm of her hand,” Goodman said.
SOURCE: FOX News, Miami Herald, Spirit Airlines