Spirit passenger flushes pet hamster down toilet after misinformation, report says

Student flushes emotional support hamster down toilet after airline refuses to allow rodent on flight

Student flushes emotional support hamster down toilet after airline refuses to allow rodent on flight

Belen Aldecosea, 21, said she had previously checked twice with Spirit Airlines that she could bring Pebbles - a dwarf hamster medically acknowledged as an emotional support animal - on her journey home to Miami from university in Texas.

Belen Aldecosea was just trying to return home to Florida with her pet hamster to deal with a medical issue, but she says conflicting information from Spirit Airlines led her to flush the emotional support animal down an airport toilet.


After agonizing over what to do, with no one to take Pebbles for her, Aldecosea said she felt like she had no other option and flushed the small hamster.

It was at that point Aldecosea claims a Spirit Airlines employee suggested she let Pebbles go free or flush her down an airport toilet, a claim Spirit has vehemently denied.

Aldecosea told the Herald that, out of options and with her flight boarding soon, she considered just letting Pebbles free but felt it was more humane to flush the animal than let it run around in the cold, only to get hit by a auto. "It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet", Aldecosea told the Herald. "I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good ten minutes crying in the stall".

"Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines", spokesman Derek Dombrowski wrote in an email.

Airline passengers have raised concerns in recent years over what some view as exploitation of the concept of an emotional support animal, with a recent story about an "emotional support peacock" coming to mind.

Aldecosea told the Herald she chose to come forward after hearing the peacock story.

Aldecosa's attorney told the Miami Herald the hamster could fit in the palm of the pet owner's hand.

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"Flushing a living being down the toilet is not only cruel but also illegal, and both the person who killed this animal and Spirit Airlines - if an employee did, in fact, advise the woman to drown the hamster - should be charged".

Emotional support animals have become a controversial issue for U.S. airlines over recent years.

Hamsters are not prohibited by the Transportation Security Administration, but it would have had to be taken out of its holder and carried through the security checkpoint.

When she turned up, however, Pebbles was not allowed on the plane.

However, it is up to individual airlines to decide whether they allow the rodents on board.

"Rodents of any kind are not allowed on board for health and safety reasons".

And as she considered it a more humane way of ending her life than letting her free outside, she did it.

Belen insisted she considered other options like auto hire or taking a coach, but was left with little choice.

"She was scared. I was scared".

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