A college student claims she flushed her emotional support hamster down an airport toilet after an airlines official refused to let it fly and on being advised to do so, Telegraph reported.
The Miami Herald reported Belen Aldecosea was on her way from college to Florida. She had previously called Spirit Airlines twice to ensure her pet hamster, Pebbles, could fly with her.
On the day of check-in, the first Spirit Airlines agent checked-in her pet with no problem. The hamster’s small cage fit all regulations for carry-on luggage. Aldecosea even had her doctor’s letter certifying Pebbles.
But as she approached the security checkpoint, a second Spirit employee chased her down and yelled that rodents aren’t allowed. She said the agents told her the hamster wasn’t allowed in the cargo section either.
Aldecosea was outraged and panicked since she needed to return home promptly to have a suspected cancer tumor removed. Further discussions lead to no avail and she accepted a flight later in the day so that she could have some time to do something about the hamster.
Unfortunately, she had no relatives or friends to hand in Pebbles to. It was then that an employee suggested Aldecosea let Pebbles go free outside or flush it down the toilet.
With her flight boarding soon, she made a panicked decision that it was more humane to end the hamster’s life right away instead of having it running around scared in the cold or getting hit by a car.
“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.”
“I didn’t have any other options,” she said.
A spokesperson for Spirit Airlines acknowledged Aldecosea was mistakenly told the hamster would be allowed to fly but the spokesperson denied a Spirit employee recommended flushing her hamster down 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,” spokesperson Derek 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,” spokesperson Derek Dombrowski said.
But Aldecosea said she’s considering suing Spirit over the conflicting instructions that pressured her into making the decision.
She shared her tale with newspaper after the story of an emotional support peacock – denied entrance to a United Airlines flight – went viral on the Internet.
Her attorney in Florida, Adam Goodman, has stated that this case is different.”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,” he said.
The lawyer has also stated she now has a replacement rodent, USA TODAY reports.
The US Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) does not prohibit carry-on hamsters.
“Hamsters are welcome in our checkpoint. Their container would typically go through the X-ray while the owner would hold the hamster as the passenger walks through the metal detector so the creature is not subjected to radiation,” according to TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.
However, it’s the airlines who decide whether they allow hamsters on-board. Majority of the main US carrier airlines such as American, Delta and United do not allow rodents due to health and safety concerns.
This article originally appears on The Telegraph.