Imagine being forced to eliminate your pet that’s just a heinous idea that’s what a Florida woman claims he was told to do.
The incident happened at the airport where the woman says an airline told her to flush her hamster down a toilet because the emotional support rodent wasn't allowed to fly with her.
Belen Aldecosea flew home from college to South Florida and before then she had called Spirit Airlines twice to ensure she could bring along Pebbles, her pet dwarf hamster. However, the airline told her that wasn’t a problem at all.
However when Aldecosea arrived at the Baltimore airport, Spirit refused to allow the animal board and that’s when she had to flush Pebbles at an airline employee's suggestion since she had run out of options.
The 21-year-old claims that she panicked and needed to return home promptly to deal with a medical issue, Aldecosea was unable to rent a car and agonized for hours before doing the unthinkable. "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."
One of the spokesman for Spirit acknowledged the airline mistakenly told Aldecosea that Pebbles was allowed. However, he denied that a Spirit employee recommended flushing her pet in an airport restroom. "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.
However, Aldecosea said she's considering suing Spirit over the conflicting instructions that pressured her into making an anguished decision.
According to her Florida attorney, Adam Goodman. "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 idea of animals on flights has become controversial in recent years with some people saying that travelers are taking advantage of federal law to get household pets on planes. From 2016 to 2017, American Airlines recorded an increase of over 40 percent in customers who flew with a service or support animal. Several airlines have recently tightened restrictions on such animals.
The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration has no problem with 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 spokeswoman Sari Koshetz.
Airlines have to decide whether they allow hamsters on board. Most major carriers such as American, Delta and United, say no, citing concerns about safety and health.