The rules and regulations regarding service animals on planes is something that many airlines are trying to tighten up, but this latest incident proves things are still rather confusing. A student went to catch a flight home to South Florida and attempted to bring her emotional support pet hamster with her. Due to what she is calling bad advice from Spirit Airlines, she ended up flushing her hamster down the toilet.
Twenty-one-year-old Belen Aldecosea contacted Spirit Airlines on two separate occasions before heading to the Baltimore airport for her flight home to South Florida. According to the Miami Herald, she was looking to travel home with her dwarf hamster, Pebbles, on November 21, 2017, but things didn’t go so well for her.
Upon arriving at the airport, Aldecosea said employees of the airline said she could not get on the plane with her emotional support hamster. At this point, she tried to unsuccessfully rent a car and couldn’t contact anyone, as all of her friends and family were in Florida already.
Knowing that she needed to desperately get on the flight, Aldecosea asked again what her options were. She says that one Spirit Airlines employee suggested letting the animal go free or flushing the hamster down the toilet, and Aldecosea ended up choosing the latter.
— David Ovalle (@DavidOvalle305) February 8, 2018
Spirit Airlines is denying that anyone told the young student to flush her hamster down the toilet.
Aldecosea said that she contemplated letting Pebbles free outside, but she felt that wasn’t a good option as the animal could get hit by a car or freeze to death. At that point, she thought that flushing the hamster was the humane choice and the only one she really had.
“She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet. I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
Pebbles the hamster would not be the first odd choice for a service or emotional support animal to be brought onto a plane. People have brought snakes, pigs, ducks, and cats, and one person recently attempted to bring a peacock on a flight.
While the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration said it would be fine with allowing hamsters on the flight, Spirit technically did not have to do so. All airlines are free to choose what animals they wish to allow on board their planes.
Delta is one of the first airlines to tighten the rules and regulations on service animals that are allowed on its planes, but others may soon follow their example. In the case of 21-year-old Belen Aldecosea, she was simply looking to bring Pebbles, her emotional support dwarf hamster, home to South Florida with her. Unfortunately, she took the advice she said she was given after being denied and flushed the animal down the toilet instead.