Spirit Airlines allegedly told student to flush emotional support hamster down toilet

A Spirit Airlines flight is seen in a file

A college student flushed her pet hamster down an airport toilet after she says the animal was barred from a flight and a Spirit Airlines employee suggested getting rid of it that way.

Belen Aldecosea, 21, of Miami Beach, Florida, told the Miami Herald that she contacted Spirit Airlines before her flight from Baltimore to South Florida on November 21, 2017, regarding traveling with her dwarf hamster, Pebbles.

It's reported Spirit Air staff told Belen Aldecosea she couldn't board with Pebbles, despite being previously told she could. She said she had no friends or family in town to pick up Pebbles.

A representative for Spirit Airlines denied that an employee said to flush the emotional support animal. Despite Spirits own guidelines the US Transportation Safety Administration allows carry-on hamsters.

The incident happened back in November, but Ms Aldecosa made a decision to share her story after a similar tale regarding an "emotional support" peacock went viral last week. According to the Miami Herald, they said it was fine.

Ms Aldecosa bought Pebbles to help her cope with a cancer scare a year ago. Rodents were not allowed on Spirit flights, a shocked Aldecosea was told - whether travelling with their human companions or in the cargo hold.

Goodman told the Herald: "This wasn't a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers".

Animals on flights have become controversial in recent years. Several airlines have recently tightened restrictions on such animals.

Guidance states: 'Hamsters are welcome in our checkpoint.

It's up to airlines whether they allow hamsters on board. Most don't allow rodents due to health and safety concerns.

Pebbles is only the latest of the unusual emotional support animals used by people scared of flying, which are usually no weirder than just dogs and cats.

The debate over what counts as an emotional-support animal, and which animals should be allowed on commercial flights, has become a near-crisis for airlines.

Aldecosea, a Miami Beach High graduate, insists her doctor approved her hamster as a certified emotional support animal, and had the medical certificate to prove it when she went to the airport. She wasn't old enough to rent a auto. She considered a Greyhound trip, but that would've been taken days.

With her flight boarding soon, Aldecosea decided she didn't want to let the hamster go free where it could freeze or possibly starve to death.

She said the alternative would have been to set Pebbles free to roam the risky streets of Baltimore - where crime drama The Wire is set.

She is said to have argued that she had a right to bring him on board as her emotional support animal.

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