College student says airline made her flush prized hamster down toilet

A woman said she flushed her hamster Pebbles down an airport toilet after Spirit Airlines refused to allow it on a flight. Handout  The Miami Herald

A spokesman for Spirit Airlines, a low-priced carrier based in Miramar, Florida, confirmed that a Spirit employee incorrectly told Aldecosea that she could bring her hamster on the flight, but denied that an employee told Aldecosea to flush the hamster or harm her in any way.

Aldecosea says she contacted Spirit Airlines twice prior to her flight to make sure she could bring her pet dwarf hamster, Pebbles. A spokesman for Spirit told the Herald that someone did give Aldecosea misinformation that the animal could go on the plane, but said no one told her to flush the hamster.

The incident occurred in November, but Aldecosea didn't share her story until after United Airlines refused to let a passenger bring her "emotional support" peacock on board in a similar scenario.

Belen Aldecosea Pebbles’ owner
Belen Aldecosea Pebbles’ owner

Belen insisted she considered other options like auto hire or taking a coach, but was left with little choice. The student told The Miami Herald that an employee suggested she flush Pebbles down an airport toilet.

Aldecosea said she emailed the airline after the incident and was offered a voucher for a free flight but she declined. However, Aldecosea adopted Pebbles when she felt she needed company after she discovered a potentially cancerous growth in her neck.

Derek Dombrowski, a spokesman for Spirit Airlines, denied in a statement to The Post that any employee suggested that Aldecosea hurt or injure the critter prior to the flight.

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That changed when another Spirit staffer reportedly stopped her right before the security checkpoint, and told her that rodents weren't allowed on flights, even in the cargo hold. "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 made a decision to end her own pet's life".

The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration has no problem with carry-on hamsters.

According to Aldecosea, she brought the doctor's emotional support certification for Pebbles to the airport.

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She told the Miami Herald: "I didn't have any other options".

It's up to airlines whether they allow hamsters on board. Delta also recently expanded its list of animals that are barred from flying to include farm poultry, hedgehogs and anything with tusks.

Most major USA airlines, however, don't allow rodents on flights over concerns about health and safety. She considered a Greyhound trip, but that would've been taken days. From 2016 to 2017, American Airlines recorded an increase of over 40 percent in customers who flew with a service or support animal.

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"They gave me the wrong information a couple of times", Aldecosea said.

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