Texas college student, Belen Aldecosea accuses Spirit Airlines of coercing her to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet after forbidding her to bring the animal on a flight with her.
A Texas college student who flushed her emotional support hamster down the toilet after being told she wasn’t allowed to bring it on a flight has told of considering launching a lawsuit against Spirit Airlines for ‘emotional distress’.
According to a report via the Miami Herald, Belen Aldecosea, 21, claims she ‘didn’t have any other options’ but to kill her pet Pebbles rather than miss her flight back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in November after staff informed her that rodents were not allowed aboard.
Aldecosea said she called the budget airline twice to check she was allowed to bring her ‘medically certified’ emotional support animal – a pet dwarf hamster on the flight home from college in Baltimore.
On both occasions, Aldecosea claims she was assured her rodent companion was fine to fly.
But when she arrived at the Baltimore–Washington International Airport on November 21, staff told her she couldn’t board with Pebbles.
Aldecosea says she accepted a later flight on Spirit to figure out what to do with her hamster, and claims she contacted six rental car agencies to try and hire a car, but says that every single company was out of cars.
She told the Herald that a Greyhound bus would have taken days to get to South Florida – and she had to get home for a medical appointment.
All her friends were hours away at her then-university Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
As she sought to make alternative arrangements, Aldecosea said that a member of Spirit staff suggested she either let Pebbles go free outside or flush her pet down the toilet.
With her flight boarding soon, Aldecosea decided she didn’t want to let the hamster go free where it could freeze or possibly starve to death.
So she decided she would flush the living creature down the toilet instead. Guaranteed instant ‘relatively pain free’ drowning death. Of course. Or maybe not…
‘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.’
Belen Aldecosea forced to flush Pebbles down the toilet?
So unnerved was Aldecosea, that the college student who also doubles as a volleyball star has now revealed that she is considering filing a lawsuit against Spirit, blaming them for allegedly pressuring her into killing the animal.
Responding to Aldecosea’s claims, Spirit denied a staff member ever advising the athlete to kill her pet, while conceding that an employee mistakenly told her, over the phone, that Pebbles would be allowed on the flight.
‘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.
The airline have since offered her a voucher for a free flight to certain cities, which Aldecosea declined.
1) Spirit Airlines emphatically denies that they told Belen Aldecosea to murder her pet.
2) Yes, she had other options like, oh I don’t know, NOT MURDERING HER HAMSTER.
3) I really hope she’s charged with animal abuse.
— ???? (@HMSPitts) February 8, 2018
Awful awful awful! This entire story sickens me beyond belief! #BelenAldecosea AND @SpiritAirlines should be ashamed! My heart breaks for this poor hamster ? ? #RIP Pebbles ? https://t.co/W3C5kiM76K
— Ashley ❄ aka Beulah. Views are my own (@BuellaMarie) February 8, 2018
Belen Aldecosea should be charged with animal cruelty and there is no excuse for her being a disgusting piece of garbage. However, I don’t doubt some trashbag employee giving attitude and saying that.
— May I Please (@StayInBedThanks) February 8, 2018
Belen Aldecosea flushes her emotional hamster down the toilet outrages animal rights advocates:
PETA has since condemned the move, calling it both cruel and illegal.
Told PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch via the dailymail, ‘One phone call could have saved this animal, or some kind person at the airport could have helped.
‘Flushing a living being down a 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.’
So far, it does not appear that the student is facing any charges.
The Transportation Safety Administration, TSA, allows hamsters past security; the cages are sent through the X-ray while the owners hold the animals in their hands as the walk through the metal detectors.
But it’s the airlines that decide if the animals are allowed aboard and most carriers, while they will allow more typical emotional support animals such as dogs and cats, won’t allow rodents over health and safety concerns.
Aldecosea, a Miami Beach High graduate, insists her doctor approved her hamster as a certified emotional support animal, and had the medical certificate to prove it when she went to the airport.
She’s bought the rodent after developing a large but benign growth in her neck last year.
‘She was so loving. It was like she knew I needed somebody,’ said Aldecosea, who at six-feet tall helped lead her school, Miami Beach to back-to-back National District Volleyball Championships and was named Most Valuable Player, before joining Barry University in Florida where she joined the volleyball team.
She later transferred to Maryville College, joining their team as middle/right side, but dropped out after developing the neck cyst and is now a student at Texas State University.
Belen Aldecosea in dire need of emotional support:
While guide dogs have been occasional flyers for years, there have recently been a surge of emotional-support animals. 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.
Airlines are convinced that some emotional support animals abuse the rules, especially when most passengers often have to pay $125 or more each way to bring a small pet on board.
According to the US Department of Transportation’s policy concerning ‘unusual service animals,’ they should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and airlines are urged to consider each animal’s size, weight, state and foreign country restrictions, and whether or not the animal would pose a direct threat, or cause a disruption on a flight.
This though hasn’t stopped flyers, such as Aldecosea who insist on what they believe is their right to bring emotional support animals with them to help cope with life’s travails…
Emotional support? Is that code for parents failing to discipline their spoilt obnoxious daughter?#BelenAldecosea form Miami is now added to #WallOfShame for animal cruelty
Established link between psychos who abuse animals progressing to human victims – men (& lesbians) beware
— Becky Bongos (@Becky_Bongos) February 8, 2018
I think thoughtless, compassion-less, immature, self-centered people have been around forever. My landlady 20 years ago put down her dog, she told me later, because “it had fleas”. I hate people like my landlady. And I hate Belen Aldecosea.
— Tory Kerouac (@ToryKerouac) February 8, 2018
What kind of a person (Belen Aldecosea) flushes their beloved pet down a toilet? #spiritairlines #spiritair #spirit #pebbles #hamster
— Taco Flavored Kisses (@michaelcreiter) February 8, 2018