Student Alleges Spirit Encouraged Her to Flush Hamster

Belen Aldecosea was just trying to return home to Florida with her pet hamster to deal with a medical issue but she says conflicting information from Spirit Airlines led her to flush the emotional support animal down an airport toilet

Belen Aldecosea was just trying to return home to Florida with her pet hamster to deal with a medical issue but she says conflicting information from Spirit Airlines led her to flush the emotional support animal down an airport toilet

The 21-year-old Florida woman says she was compelled to do so because of Spirit Airlines, which she says verified twice on the phone that she'd be able to bring Pebbles on her November 21 flight from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale.

The dwarf hamster was supposedly certified as an emotional support animal and Spirit acknowledged in statements to the Herald that someone incorrectly told her Pebbles would be allowed on the plane. Running out of options, she claims she flushed Pebbles at the advice of a Spirit employee.

But when Aldecosea arrived at the Baltimore airport, Spirit refused to allow the tiny animal on the flight.

Spirit spokesman Derek Dombrowski told the Herald that a reservation representative made a mistake by telling Aldecosea that Pebbles would be allowed on the flight.

Aldecosea's only friends were hours away at campus, she had no family in the area and she was not old enough to rent a vehicle, she told the Herald.

Aldecosea said she's now considering filing a lawsuit against Spirit for giving her conflicting information about her pet's ability to fly alongside her.

A representative for Spirit Airlines admitted they mistakenly told Aldecosea that Pebbles would be allowed - but that no employee ever recommended disposing of the hamster in a toilet.

"Hamsters are welcome in our checkpoint", TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz told the newspaper. She booked a later flight while she tried to figure out what to do with Pebbles.

For hours, Aldecosea said, she struggled with what to do. It was during her first lonely semester there that Aldecosea developed a painful golf-ball size growth in her neck, leading to a cancer scare. She contacted at least six rental auto agencies, but no cars were available during the busy holiday season and she wasn't old enough to rent a vehicle anyway.

But disaster struck when when Aldecosea tried to board a plane after a stopover in Baltimore, and was told by Spirit staff that rodents were not permitted in the passenger cabin and should be stored with luggage in the cargo hold.

Spirit Airlines, however, denies any agent would suggest this option to any passenger.

With her flight boarding soon, she pondered whether to just let Pebbles free outside.

The student said she considered letting Pebbles run free outside but could not bear thinking of her hamster freezing to death or getting hit.

The Wilson College student is claiming that she didn't have any other choice but to kill Pebbles so she wouldn't miss her flight home to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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