21-Year-Old Flushes Her 'Emotional Support' Hamster Down a Toilet, Blames Spirit Airlines

Brittany M. Hughes | February 9, 2018
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Less than two weeks ago, I wrote a piece criticizing a young woman who got turned away from a United Airlines flight for trying to board with her "emotional support" peacock. In response, many commenters argued that my critique was ridiculous, given that most airline passengers aren’t trying to get on planes with exotic animals or support pets that aren't dogs.

To those naysayers, behold: another woman who's now threatening to sue Spirit Airlines because she flushed her own “emotional support” dwarf hamster down an airport toilet after being told she couldn’t bring it onboard her flight.

I can’t make this up, so I’m just going to leave this here:

Before Belen Aldecosea flew home from college to South Florida, she twice called Spirit Airlines to ensure she could bring along a special guest: Pebbles, her pet dwarf hamster. No problem, the airline told her.

But when Aldecosea arrived at the Baltimore airport, Spirit refused to allow the tiny animal on the flight.

With her only friends hours away at campus, Aldecosea was stuck. She says an airline representative suggested flushing Pebbles down an airport toilet, a step that Spirit denies. Panicked and needing to return home promptly to deal with a medical issue, Aldecosea unsuccessfully tried renting a car and agonized for hours before doing the unthinkable.

“She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet,” Aldecosea said. “I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”

The 21-year-old claims that Pebbles – again, a hamster – was an “emotional support animal” that Spirit had no right to turn away (even though most major airlines have perfectly legit policies against bringing rodents in the cabin for safety and health reasons).

While Spirit isn’t denying that they turned the rodent away at the gate, the airline is maintaining that at no time did one of their employees suggest Aldecosea flush her hamster down a toilet, a decision that the college student apparently found preferable to simply leaving the airport with her pet alive and well. (She's already reportedly found a replacement hamster for "comfort," her lawyer says.)

To those who claim this is an isolated incident, think again: according to this, Delta alone flew more than 250,000 animals in its cabins in 2015 – and that’s not including small animals in carry-on bags or pets in the cargo hold. That’s more than twice the number of in-cabin animals the airline carried the year before, the report adds.

United carried about 76,000 “emotional support” animals in 2017, up 77 percent from the previous year.

And they certainly aren’t all dogs. This chick, for example, says she "can't imagine" not flying with her emotional support parakeet.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised that people are eating Tide Pods. It seems to fit.