In one of the most bizarre headlines in recent years, a Florida woman is claiming officials from Spirit Airlines compelled her to flush her pet hamster down an airport toilet because the tiny rodent was not allowed on the flight with her. From there, the story gets even stranger. Because the woman, Belen Aldecosea, is claiming the hamster was an “emotional support” pet and thus should have been allowed on the plane.
No Pets Allowed
According to the Associated Press, Aldecosea, a college student on her way home for a visit, called Spirit Airlines more than once to confirm that it was okay for her to bring her hamster, Pebbles, with her on the flight. All good, the airline said, at least according to Aldecosea. However, when Aldecosea arrived at Baltimore airport, the airline officials told her she could not bring the rodent on the flight. There may have been other options, but Aldecosea says she didn’t have any, so, she says she took an airline employee’s suggestion and flushed the hamster down the toilet.
When pressed for details on why she was “out of options,” Aldecosea said she could not rent a car, and that she had to be home soon to take care of a pressing medical issue. Aldecosea, speaking to the Miami Herald, 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.”
Speaking to the media, a Spirit Airlines spokesperson admitted the airline made a mistake in telling the woman she could bring her pet but denied suggesting she flush it. “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…”
Aldecosea Pursues Legal Action
Aldecosea, of course, is threatening to sue over the conflicting information. However, many, at least on social media, think she has some things to answer for as well. There are some who don’t think animals should be on flights at all. Others are calling Aldecosea a killer that was unthinkably cruel to a helpless creature. Then there are those who are using this case, as well as other recent cases, putting forward the argument that travelers are taking advantage of service animal laws to bring their pets on flights for free. Most times, people try to bring dogs or cats on flights. Recently, though, a person made headlines trying to bring an “emotional support peacock” on a flight.
Most people say that was definitely crossing the line. Aldecosea says that incident inspired her to share her story. So far, that story is not being heard with sympathetic ears.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States