College student says airline made her flush prized hamster down toilet

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A college student says she was pressured to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet after Spirit Airlines refused to let her bring it on a plane, according to the Miami Herald.

Belen Aldecosea claims she "didn't have any other options" but to kill her pet Pebbles rather than miss her flight back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in November after staff informed her that rodents were not allowed aboard, according to the Daily Mail.

Aldecosea, who now attends Texas State University, said a Spirit Airlines employee suggested she let Pebbles free or flush it down the toilet.

In her account to the Herald, Aldecosea says tried everything imaginable, including renting a auto (she says there weren't any available) and reaching out to her friends (they were hours away back at school, she says).

Aldecosea claimed to the Herald that a representative with Spirit Airlines suggested she flush her pet down the toilet, a claim Spirit Airlines has denied.

Aldecosea says she accepted a later flight on Spirit to figure out what to do with her hamster, and claims she contacted six rental vehicle agencies to try and hire a auto, but says that every single company was out of cars. So she did what she felt was the most humane choice.

The airline denied the allegations in a statement but acknowledged that a representative incorrectly assured her days ahead of time that Pebbles was cleared to fly. "It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet", Aldecosea told the local newspaper.

"It is incredibly disheartening to hear this guest reportedly made a decision to end her own pet's life", Dombrowksi's statement continued.

Belen Aldecosea. Pic Miami Herald
Image Belen Aldecosea. Pic Miami Herald

The student is contemplating a lawsuit against Spirit and has hired attorney Adam Goodman to fight her case.

In recent weeks, airlines have tightened restrictions on animals allowed on flights after rising accounts of unusual emotional support animals, including a peacock and sheep.

So Aldecosea eventually flushed Pebbles - a support hamster she had gotten after a cancer scare the previous year.

She told the Herald the airline said over the phone it wouldn't be a problem, but when she arrived at the airport, the story changed.

It's up to airlines whether they allow hamsters on board.

"Our records indicate the guest took that later flight with no further incident", Dombrowksi said.

"We would be happy to screen a hamster", TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. Both Delta and United announced new policies slated to go into effect next month that require passengers who want to bring emotional support animals with them to submit a veterinary health form at least 48 hours before travel and to provide a letter from a doctor or mental health professional, plus a signed document saying the animal is trained to behave in public.

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