A college student from Florida says she learned the hard way that her emotional support hamster would not be allowed on a flight with her.
Belen Aldecosea claims that she was forced to flush her hamster down the toilet after a Spirit Airlines employee suggested that it was one of her only options if she wanted to board the flight.
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Aldecosea says that she had called the airline prior to her flight to confirm that the hamster could accompany her. According to her account, Spirit (SAVE) said it was fine. However, upon arrival at the airport, an employee reportedly refused to let her bring the hamster onboard, telling her that she could either flush the animal or let it loose outside. After exhausting other options, Aldecosea flushed her animal.
In response, Spirit said in a statement that it “can say confidently that at no point did any of our agents suggest this Guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal. It is incredibly disheartening to hear this Guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life.”
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The airline does admit that an employee had incorrectly told her that the hamster would be allowed on the flight—its guidelines state that the airline doesn’t accept rodents. However, it further states that it had arranged for Aldecosea to board a later flight to allow her adequate time to find accommodation for her hamster.
TIME reports that Aldecosea is considering legal options, including a possible lawsuit.
Spirit was not immediately available for comment.