MIAMI, Fla. (WFLA) — A 21-year-old Florida woman said she was forced to flush her emotional support animal down the toilet after Spirit Airlines staff banned it from traveling with her on a flight from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale, the Miami Herald reports.
Belen Aldecosea was flying home to have a golf-ball seized growth removed from her neck. She told the newspaper she called Spirit Airlines to make sure Pebbles – her pet dwarf hamster who is certified by her doctor as an emotional support animal – was okay to accompany her home. But when she arrived at the airport several days later, she was told rodents weren’t allowed on board with passengers and Pebbles could not be stored in cargo.
Aldecosea changed her flight to buy time to figure out what to do with the animal, but with it being days before Thanksgiving, she was left with few options.
Aldecosea, who now attends Texas State University, said a Spirit Airlines employee suggested she let Pebbles free or flush it down the toilet.
That’s when Aldecosea did the unthinkable. She flushed the hamster down the toilet.
“I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall,” Aldecosea told the Miami Herald. “I didn’t have any other options.”
Aldecosea is now considering filing a lawsuit against Spirit over the incident.
A spokesman for the airline vehemently denied she was instructed to flush the pet down the toilet, but acknowledged the airline mistakenly told her that Pebbles was allowed on the plane in the first place.
“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,” spokesman Derek Dombrowski said.
Aldecosea said she e-mailed the airline to complain and they offered her a voucher for a free flight to certain cities, which she declined.