Spirit Airlines faces a public relations mess after an employee allegedly told a customer to flush her hamster down a toilet in order to board a flight, even though she had previously received the OK to bring the small rodent aboard.
NEW: Spirit Airlines pushed me to flush my emotional-support hamster down an airport toilet, student says https://t.co/JErmxvTimY pic.twitter.com/cWvaJhy2tq
— David Ovalle (@DavidOvalle305) February 8, 2018
At this point, you’re probably thinking something like, “Awful! Spirit had better accommodate her! Shame she had to reschedule her flight to take her hamster back home, or to a friend’s, or to an animal shelter, or to the first person willing not to kill an animal in cold blood.”
Nope. Belen Aldecosea apparently flushed her live hamster down the toilet.
Aldecosea claims to have called and checked with Spirit Airlines twice before her flight to make absolutely sure that her alleged doctor-certified emotional support animal—a hamster named Pebbles—could board with her. According to a spokesperson from Spirit, the airline mistakenly told Aldecosea that Pebbles was allowed but denied that anyone in the company recommended flushing her.
Before apparently killing her “emotional support animal,” Aldecosea was able to finagle a later flight to try and work out what to do with Pebbles. This begs the question: If her flight could have been exchanged for a later departure, what made her time so valuable that she had to kill Pebbles? What would she have done if instead of a hamster, Spirit had turned away her dog or cat? Would she have killed that animal, too?
Of course, it’s unquestionable that Spirit Airlines’ incompetence in first assuring Aldecosea that she could board with her hamster, then rescinding that permission, sparked this entire heartbreaking chain of events. A teeny, tiny hamster in her travel cage wouldn’t have posed a threat to any other passenger.
However, flushing a living being down a toilet is not only cruel but also illegal. Aldecosea should be charged for killing Pebbles, and if an airline employee did, in fact, advise her to drown her hamster, the company should be held accountable as well. This must have been a horrific, terrifying death.
Be Prepared Before You Fly
Traveling with animals can be a logistical nightmare. In some cases, it may be better to leave your animal friends at home in the care of a trusted sitter, such as a relative, close friend, coworker, or neighbor. While flying might seem to be the fastest and least stressful way to go, it can be the opposite if you’re turned away before boarding or if an animal is forced to fly in the cargo hold—which can be a death sentence.
Guarding and protecting a life isn’t something to be flushed away when times get tough. We owe it to our animal companions to do the best by them.