A Florida woman claims that Spirit Airlines forced her to flush her hamster down an airport toilet because the emotional support animal wasn't allowed to board the plane with her, reports The Miami Herald.
Before college student Belen Aldecosea flew home from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale she called Spirit Airlines twice to confirm she could bring Pebbles, her pet dwarf hamster. Aldecosea had a doctor's letter certifying Pebbles as an emotional support animal, and the airline assured her it wouldn't be a problem.
When the 21-year-old arrived at the Baltimore airport, a Spirit employee refused to allow her to board with the animal. She said Spirit agents informed her she couldn't place the hamster in the cargo hold either.
Panicked and with her plane about to take off, Aldecosea said she flushed Pebbles at an airline employee's suggestion, after exhausting all other options.
Spirit Airlines spokesman Derek Dombrowski admits in an email that the company mistakenly told Aldecosea over the phone that the rodent was allowed. He explained, "Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines."
However, Dombrowski denies that a Spirit employee told her to flush her pet down the toilet. Dombrowski adds, "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."
Aldecosea said she's considering suing Spirit over the conflicting instructions that pressured her into making the difficult decision.
A U.S. Transportation Safety Administration spokeswoman told the newspaper they have no problem with carry-on hamsters, but it is up to the individual airlines to decide whether they allow hamsters on board.