A Florida student says she is considering suing an airline after it refused to allow her emotional support hamster on board and allegedly suggested she flush it down the toilet.
Belen Aldecosea told the Miami Herald she had called twice to check with Spirit Airlines that she would be able to bring Russian Dwarf hamster Pebbles on the flight home from Baltimore.
But when the 21-year-old arrived at the airport, representatives refused to allow the animal on board.
Unable to rent a car and becoming increasingly panicked, Aldecosea claims an airline representative suggested flushing Pebbles down the toilet – something the airline denies.
Recounting Pebbles’ last moments, Aldecosea said: “She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet. I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
An airline spokesman told the Associated Press Aldecosea had been misinformed about whether she could bring the rodent on board but denied that she had been advised to dispose of the animal in such a way.
Derek Dombrowski said: “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.”
Emotional support animals provide comfort and support to people with mental health-related problems, including anxiety and depression. They have a special license which means they are allowed to travel on flights or live in places that don’t usually allow pets.
The Transport Safety Administration permits hamsters on board in principle but it’s up to airlines whether they allow the animals on aircraft.
Aldecosea, who acquired the animal after a cancer scare says she had a doctor’s note certifying Pebbles’ status as such.
The matter comes a week after an emotional support peacock was denied entry onto a United Airlines plane.
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