And then, she told the Miami Herald, things took a turn for the worse.
Belen Aldecosea, 21, of Miami Beach, Florida, told the Miami Herald that she contacted Spirit Airlines before her flight from Baltimore to South Florida on November 21, 2017, regarding traveling with her dwarf hamster, Pebbles. When she booked her reservation, Aldecosea said she was assured by a Spirit Airlines representative that she could bring the hamster on board with her. She says needed to catch her flight and felt pressure to get home as quickly as possible to deal with a medical issue. Eventually, a Spirit employee allegedly suggested that Aldecosea release the hamster outside or flush it down an airport toilet. Aldecosea says she was stuck: Her nearest friends were hours away in Chambersburg, Penn., at Wilson College, a school she was leaving in order to have a painful but benign neck growth removed at home. The woman, Belen Aldecosea, claims the hamster was a certified emotional-support animal.
Goodman tells TIME that he and Aldecosea are planning to sit down and "discuss the legal remedies available", including a possible lawsuit.
Aldecosea, 21, told the Miami Herald that a representative from Spirit Airlines suggested she flush Pebbles down a toilet so she can continue with her travel, but the airline denied this.
The final decision to send Pebbles to a watery grave seemed more humane, she said, than letting the animal free to potentially starve to death or get struck by a vehicle.More news: Top White House aide resigned
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The hamster was in a small cage that fit regulations for carry-on luggage but the airline said the pet could not go on with passengers or in the cargo area of the plane, the outlet reports.
The Miami Herald noted that the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration was fine with hamsters on the flight, but airlines are allowed to choose if they want the rodents on board.
Guidance states: 'Hamsters are welcome in our checkpoint.
She twice called Spirit in advance, to verify the hamster could fly.
'Their container would typically go through the X-ray while the owner would hold the hamster as the passenger walks through the metal detector so the creature is not subjected to radiation'.
"She was scared. I was scared", Aldecosea told the paper.
Most major U.S. airlines, however, don't allow rodents on flights over concerns about health and safety. She was offered a seat on a later flight and tried to rent a auto to take Pebbles back to her student accommodation, but no cars were available. "She pondered whether to just let Pebbles free outside", the Herald continues, but eventually decided said it was "more humane to end [Pebbles'] life right away, and not let her run around scared in the cold, only to die getting hit by a auto". "I didn't have any other options", Aldecosea told the Miami Herald.