A college student is considering legal action against Spirit Airlines. According to USA Today, Belen Aldecosea says that the airlines caused her to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet.
The flight took place when the 21-year-old Texas State University student took a flight from Baltimore to South Florida last November. She was traveling to Fort Lauderdale to have a growth removed from her neck, which is one of the reasons she needed the support hamster, named Pebbles.
Her lawyer, Adam Goodman, says there isn't audio or video proof showing a Spirit employee told Aldecosea to flush her hamster. Still, he believes his client.
"It's hard, but you really have to look at the circumstances because this whole thing only makes sense with someone telling her to (flush the animal)," said Goodman. "...This is a situation where there weren't body cameras or anything."
Explains Goodman, the animal helped comfort the student before she knew the growth was benign. She apparently called the airlines in advance to see if it was okay to travel with a hamster and they approved it. When she got to the airport, she received mixed signals. One employee complimented Pebbles for being cute while another apparently did not. She says the airline representative suggested flushing Pebbles down an airport toilet and would not allow her to fly with her pet. “She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet,” Aldecosea said to the Miami Herald. “I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
Spirit denies that this occurred. "After researching this incident, we can say confidently that at no point did any of our agents suggest this guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal," Spirit spokesman Derek Dombrowski said per CNBC. "It is incredibly disheartening to hear this guest reportedly decided to end her own pet's life."
Aldecosea is now considering filing a lawsuit against Spirit over the conflicting instructions that she was given as well as the emotional anguish she experienced.
Recently, another woman brought an emotional support animal, a peacock, to Newark Liberty International Airport. She claimed that she bought the bird a ticket but United Airlines would not allow her to board with it. "This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport," said United in a statement.
[Photo: Adam Goodman]