A college student flushed her pet hamster down an airport toilet after she says the animal was barred from a flight and a Spirit Airlines employee suggested getting rid of it that way.
Before Belen Aldecosea, 21, was set to fly home from college to Miami on November 21, she called Spirit Airlines twice to confirm she could bring her pet dwarf hamster, Pebbles, on the flight.
When Aldecosea showed up that day, she said, the first Spirit agent checked her emotional support pet in with no problem.
With her family in Florida and friends hours away, Aldecosea said, she had few options. Aldecosea is alleging that she drowned her hamster at the suggestion of a Spirit employee.
After rebooking her flight for a later one, and sitting for hours in the airport, Aldecosea said she finally made a decision to flush Pebbles.
The final decision to send Pebbles to a watery grave seemed more humane, she said, than letting the animal free to potentially starve to death or get struck by a vehicle.
"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.
A spokesman for Spirit acknowledged the airline mistakenly told Aldecosea that Pebbles was allowed on the flight. "I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet", the 21-year-old student, Belen Aldecosea, said according to the Miami Herald on Thursday.
"It is incredibly disheartening to hear this guest reportedly chose to end her own pet's life", Dombrowksi's statement continued.More news: Palestinian assailant killed in West Bank
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The U.S. Transport Safety Administration said hamsters were welcome through their security lanes.
On both occasions, she was told the hamster - which was certified by Aldecosea's doctor as an emotional support animal - was allowed on board.
Dombrowski denied that an employee suggested that Aldecosea flush the hamster down the toilet.
The TSA notably will accommodate small animals like hamsters, but as the Herald pointed out, individual airlines are less lenient. It was before she learned her medical issue was benign and there was concern the growth could have been cancerous, the Herald said.
And then, she told the Miami Herald, things took a turn for the worse.
Aldecosea, a Miami Beach High graduate, insists her hamster was a medically certified emotional support animal, which she got after developing a large but benign growth in her neck previous year. A bus would have taken days, the Herald said.