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09 February 2018, 01:48 | Austin Hogan
Woman told she can't take emotional support hamster on flight flushes it down toilet
A college student is furious after a Spirit Airlines employee allegedly told her to take her emotional support hamster and flush it down the toilet.
Pebble's owner, Belen Aldecosea was scheduled to fly from Baltimore to her home in Florida on Spirit Airlines.
The student said a Spirit Airlines employee suggested she flush Pebbles, her hamster, the student's lawyer, Adam Goodman said.
When Aldecosea arrived with the hamster at the airport, agents offered her an opportunity to take a later flight so she had time to find other accommodations, Dombrowski said.
"I didn't have any other options", she said, arguing that flushing Pebbles down the toilet was more humane than letting her run around in the cold to get hit by a vehicle.
Spirit Airlines denies telling Belen Aldecosea to flush the hamster named Pebbles.
"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", spokesman Derek Dombrowski said, according to the Herald. "It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet", the 21-year-old said.
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"It is incredibly disheartening to hear that this guest reportedly made a decision to end her own pet's life", Dombrowski said, The Washington Post reported.
"This wasn't a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers", said Aldecosea's lawyer, Adam Goodman, referring to a widely circulated video showing an "emotional support" peacock at a USA airport.
Recently, a prominent Brooklyn artist ruffled feathers at Newark Liberty International Airport when she was refused permission to board a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles with Dexter, her emotional support peacock. But Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman with the U.S Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), said the TSA doesn't have an issue with carry-on hamsters.
Ms Aldecosa bought Pebbles to help her cope with a cancer scare previous year.
Spirit Airlines has since come out to deny any wrongdoing, saying that while Aldecosea was misinformed initially by the airline initially, a gate representative did not suggest mercy killing Pebbles.
It's up to airlines whether they allow hamsters on board.
"I didn't have any other options", she said, the Herald reported. From 2016 to 2017, American Airlines recorded an increase of over 40 percent in customers who flew with a service or support animal. Federal regulations allow them, as long as they are not too big or exotic - but airlines can ask for a doctor's note verifying that the passenger needs the animal. Most don't allow rodents due to health and safety concerns. United and Delta Air Lines have introduced new policies that require passengers to provide additional assurances that emotional-support animals are medically certified and able to behave on an airplane.
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