College Student Accuses Spirit Airlines Of Forcing Her To Flush Her Hamster Down Toilet [Updated]

Pebbles was a doctor-approved emotional support animal assigned after the student developed a growth in her neck while attending Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

We previously discussed the increasing number of people bringing therapy and comfort animals on flights ranging from dogs to peacocks to small ponies to turkeys.  Airlines have begun to push back on this trend to bar certain animals.  Aldecosea (who is form Miami Beach, Florida) was told that she could not take her comfort hamster Pebbles on the flight.  She claims that this was a reversal of what she was told over the telephone before the flight.

She says that she had no option available to her since her family and friends were unavailable.  She said that the Spirit employees suggestion that she let the animal free or flush Peddles.

Aldecosea says that she skipped her flight and tried to rent a car without success because of her age.  She said that she did not feel that she would let Peebles free in the freezing cold to die from exposure or suffer injury.  That is when she took the walk to an airport bathroom.  She is quoted as saying “She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet. I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall. . . . I didn’t have any other options.”

Spirit admits that an employee misinformed Aldecosea that Pebbles wold be allowed on the flight. It denies however that any employee suggested the flush option.  The airline spokesperson added “it is incredibly disheartening to hear this guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life,”

Clearly, Aldecosea could sue for emotional distress in a tort action as well as other claims.  Spirit could countersue for her disparagement of its company based on false statements from its employee.  It sounds like the denial of entry for Pebbles, however, occurred as a counter where it might not have been recorded. If it were to go to trial, Aldecosea could face a hostile jury over her decision that she had no other option but to drown her pet.  One option was not to take the flight.

There is also the issue of a charge for animal cruelty since the lawsuit would be an admission of animal cruelty (including the statement that the description of having trouble flushing the animal).  Ironically, the more difficulty and trauma associated with the act in the torts lawsuit would strengthen the criminal allegation to the same degree.

What do you think?

58 thoughts on “College Student Accuses Spirit Airlines Of Forcing Her To Flush Her Hamster Down Toilet [Updated]”

  1. Unless they dragged her screaming to the bathroom and forced her hand over the toilet, no one forced her to drown her little pet. I don’t care if anyone suggested that she do it. Do you jump off a bridge because someone told you to do it?

    I understand her position that she couldn’t rent a car because she was under 25, if that is still the age restriction. What I don’t understand is how a grown woman of 21 couldn’t think of a single solution other than drowning a pet she claimed was a comfort animal, so essential for her mental well being that she required its company on an airplane.

    Could the hamster have been shipped in baggage? She could have taken a taxi to a hotel and hung out there until she came up with a solution. Called a rescue. Did she never watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? Because those 2 guys were the image of perseverance.

    In my opinion, this young lady made a grave error and abused and killed her own pet. She may regret that decision, and now that she’s past the heightened emotions of the incident, perhaps she’s rethinking her choice. I do not condone her actions and think that she handled this quite poorly. The airline may have, as well, which is a separate issue.

    As for the general issue of animals as service pets, all species should have an accompanying health certificate and be amenable to travel. They must be free of fleas and other disease. My beloved horses, whom I find very pleasing and comforting to be around, would not fit into an airplane seat, especially the drafts. I am absolutely sure I could never manage getting them into a tiny airplane lavatory, and if I did, the manure would stop it up for the duration. This could make a good Airplane sequel.

    There also needs to be a discussion about allergies, as people can have life threatening allergies to pet dander. I used to work with someone who would have a severe asthma attack upon the slightest exposure to cat hair. This goes down to individual rights. Someone’s right to have a comfort animal does not supersede other people’s right to travel without exposure to common allergens. I’m not sure what the proper balance is, as true service animals are life saving in many cases, but the conversation needs to take place.

  2. Hamsters and Mice Can Cause Illness

    Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is a viral infection of the brain or the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. It mostly affects young adults, though it is uncommon. It is caused by the lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) virus.

    The LCM organism is carried by common house mice or pet hamsters. Humans become infected by breathing in dried particles of the animal’s urine, feces, or saliva that have become airborne or ingesting food or dust contaminated by the rodent’s urine.

    The incubation time is around a week, but can take as long as 3 weeks.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Once infected, some children remain symptom free, but many others may have a flu-like illness with

    •Fever

    •Headaches

    •Cough

    •Nausea and vomiting

    •Muscle aches

    •Joint pain

    •Chest pain

    After a few days of this initial phase of the infection, symptoms may go away, only to be followed by the appearance of additional symptoms associated with meningitis or encephalitis, including a stiff neck, drowsiness, and confusion.

    When to Call Your Pediatrician

    If your child has a persistent and severe flu-like illness following contact with a mouse or hamster, its cage, or its urine or feces, you should call your pediatrician for advice.

    How Is the Diagnosis Made?

    The infection can be diagnosed by blood tests for antibodies to the LCM virus.

    Treatment

    Although there is no antiviral medication with proven effectiveness for this condition, some patients will need supportive care. Patients with more severe cases may need to be hospitalized.

    What Is the Prognosis?

    Most children with LCM infections recover completely.

    Prevention

    To prevent this disease, keep your child from having direct contact with mice or hamsters and their feces. Cages should be cleaned regularly to prevent a buildup of dried feces, which can be blown into the air. Prevent rodent infestation, especially in areas where food is stored. If you notice rodent droppings, use a liquid disinfectant to clean the area.

    Last Updated 11/21/2015 Source Immunizations & Infectious Diseases: An Informed Parent’s Guide (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)

  3. “Florida student Belen Aldecosea who flushed emotional support hamster down toilet branded a ‘psychopath'”

    “‘If that woman really drowned her emotional support hamster so as not to miss a plane, she’s a psychopath'”

    https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/florida-student-belen-aldecosea-who-flushed-emotional-support-hamster-down-toilet-branded-a-a3762466.html

    “A Florida woman who allegedly flushed her “emotional support hamster” down an airport toilet after it was refused access to a flight has been branded a “psychopath”.

    “A number of online critics branded her a “psychopath”.

    “Alara Kitan wrote on Twitter: “I hardly try to weigh in on issues like this but…that girl is the monster responsible for that hamster’s death…Don’t promote this psychopath like she’s a victim.”

    “Another person added: “If that woman really drowned her emotional support hamster so as not to miss a plane, she’s a psychopath.”

    “Meanwhile US comedy writer Bess Kalb who worked on Jimmy Kimmel Live! wrote: “Hey, kids born in the 90s. Don’t eat the laundry detergent. Don’t flush your hamster down the toilet for any reason. Good luck out there!””

  4. A doctor-approved emotional support animal after she developed a growth on her neck? Well, maybe–just, maybe–human beings shouldn’t be playing, snuggling and cannodling with, of all things, rodents. Yep. I said it. Rodents. Nasty, disease-infested and disease-carrying, RODENTS. Please, all of you rodent lovers. . .spare me the diatribes about how much Fluffy, your pet rodent, means to you and your family. I couldn’t care less what little Martha does, snuggling and kissing your pet rodent. I’ve visited gag-inducing homes, where the families housed such pets–yeah, I’m using the term, pets, loosely. As soon as one walks in the door, one is assaulted with the noxious and repulsive odors of said pet. The inhabitants, however, have had their senses–all of them–numbed. They no longer recognize the nauseating smells wafting around them and permeating their clothing and hair. I suspect that this dimwit already had an attachment, of sorts, to rodents, at the time of her health crisis, which may–may–have played a role in her “unexplained” growth and her decision to have one crowned as an emotional support pet after such a diagnosis. All sorts of nasty things can happen to human being after exposure to rodents. . .just ask those who went through the Bubonic Plague. . .well, yeah, they are dead. . .but if they could speak, they’d veto the rodents as pets thing. Bottom line–she had no business toting around one of these rodents, and as a paying passenger, on an airline–where I am stuck, in a confined space, with no escape, in an aluminum tube, flying through the air–I have the right, as well, not to be exposed to rodents. Bravo Spirit! Enough taking crap from these mentally ill and lunatic passengers. You may not have the best reputation in the market, but you are beginning to show some backbone. An improvement, by any standard.

    1. bams

      You must never have had a guinea pig. They are delightful little critters, and very fun to cuddle with. I had some when I was a kid. Of course, you are right that their cages must be kept clean and the litter changed every other day or so, But the litter makes great mulch for flower beds!

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  5. Given that she was willing to flush the animal she probably didn’t take good care of it in the first place. No one who loves their pets would do such a thing. Dear little creature is probably better off.

  6. What about animal cruelty, Jon? That’s a felony she has admitted to. Shouldn’t she consider herself lucky that no one has reported her to the police and humane society? She has openly admitted guilt. So many of these kids are all kinds of messed up. So very, very messed up. :/

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