Why do we continue to see the airlines in the news? When will they get it right?
According to the Miami Herald, college student Belen Aldecosea of Miami Beach, Florida flushed her emotional support hamster down the toilet after Spirit Airlines refused to let her bring it on the plane for a November 21 flight.
Aldecosea claims she contacted the airline company before her flight from Baltimore and they told her bringing her dwarf hamster Pebbles onboard would not be a problem. However, upon arriving at the airport she said the airline refused to let Pebbles on the plane and not having friends or relatives near, “a Spirit employee suggested she either flush Pebbles down the toilet or let the animal free.”1
The student skipped her flight and tried to rent a car. However, since she wasn’t old enough and didn’t want the animal to freeze to death outside or be run over by a car (that I’m not so sure I understand- certainly she could have called someone, the Humane Society, PETA, anyone) she made a decision that seems to defy logic.
“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.”2
PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch agrees that something else could have been done, telling Fox News,
“One phone call could have saved this animal, or some kind person at the airport could have helped. Flushing a living being down the toilet is not only cruel but also illegal, and both the person who killed this animal and Spirit Airlines – if an employee did, in fact, advise the woman to drown the hamster – should be charged. This must have been a horrific, terrifying death.”3
A spokesman for Spirit Airlines insists that while an employee misinformed Aldecosea about bringing Pebbles on the flight, the employee NEVER suggested she flush the rodent down the toilet.
Aldecosea says Pebbles was a doctor-approved emotional support animal. The college student, who now attends Texas State University, is currently considering legal action against Spirit due to the airline “pressuring her into making an anguished decision with a pet certified by her doctor as an emotional support animal.” 4
Should more information on this sad situation become available, we will update you.