Spirit passenger flushes pet hamster down toilet after misinformation, report says

Belen Aldecosea, 21, told the Miami Herald she called Spirit twice to check her dwarf hamster, Pebbles, was allowed on a flight from Baltimore, where she attends university, to her home in South Florida.

Aldecosea alleges an airline representative "suggested flushing Pebbles down an airport toilet, a step that Spirit denies", the Herald said. After arriving at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on November 21, everything seemed to be going as planned until a Spirit Airlines employee approached her saying the animal was not allowed, Goodman says. She says needed to catch her flight and felt pressure to get home as quickly as possible to deal with a medical issue. "It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet", Aldecosea told the local newspaper. Aldecosea said she did not have many options since her family was in Florida and her friends were hours away.

'I was emotional. I was crying. "I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall", Aldecosea recounts.

Aldecosea is now considering filing a complaint against Spirit Airlines for the conflicting advice she claimed they gave her regarding Pebbles.

Aldecosea's lawyer, Adam Goodman, sees the cases very differently however.

He told the Miami Herald: 'This wasn't a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers.

Aldecosa's attorney told the Miami Herald the hamster could fit in the palm of the pet owner's hand.

Spirit admits an employee initially incorrectly told her the hamster would be allowed to fly with her.

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She considered letting Pebbles loose outside, but feared that the animal would either freeze to death or be hit by a vehicle.

During her first semester at a school in Pennsylvania, Aldecosea developed a painful growth in her neck, leading to a cancer scare.

She told the Miami Herald: "She was scared".

Spirit Airlines, meanwhile, denies that any agent would suggest this option to Aldecosea, or any guest.

"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)", Goodman told USA TODAY.

Individual airlines can set whatever guidelines they wish in terms of what pets they do and do not allow on board. The rep told her it was fine - an assurance that Spirit agrees was given to Aldecosea. She said she considered it more humane to end her life right away, and not let her run around scared in the cold, only to die getting hit by a vehicle. "When the Guest appeared with the hamster at the airport, our agents offered and the Guest accepted an opportunity to take a later flight, so she had time to find other accommodations for the animal".

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


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