She reportedly called the airlines -- twice -- to make sure that she could bring the hamster onto her flight and she was reportedly told that she could. However, when she arrived for her flight, Spirit Airlines staff refused to allow her to bring the animal with her flight.
Aldecosea didn't know what to do. She was re-booked for a flight nine hours after her original flight, but she still had Pebbles with her. She apparently couldn't rent a car and it would take too long to ride a bus home.
She had a lot of options. She could have re-booked her flight for the following day and left Pebbles with one of her friends. She could have ridden the bus. She could have called a rescue volunteer to come pick up her hamster. She could have given the animal to a passing stranger. She could have done a lot of things. Instead, she chose to flush the poor creature down the toilet:
“(Pebbles) 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.”Now she and her attorney are seeking national sympathy and placing blame for her senseless decision by claiming that an airline employee told her to flush Pebbles down the toilet. And she's threatening to sue the airlines for her horrid choice.
I know that people are rolling their eyes at the concept of emotional support animals. I'm not one of those people. I recognize the benefit that these animals can provide to people who experience severe anxiety and/or depression. But I also recognize that emotional support animals are not the same as trained service animals and that they are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In other words, I fully support people who seek support from emotional support dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, peacocks, whatever. But these folks need to learn the law with regards to their animals and know what they can or cannot do with them.
News reports have attempted to direct a bemused sympathy towards Aldecosea and her plight. But most people that I know are horrified by her callous and cruel disposal of the pet that provided her with the emotional support that she so badly needed.
But fear not! Pebbles might have suffered a panicked death at the hands of her owner, but Belen Aldecosea's attorney wants you to know that it is A-OK because she has gotten a new emotional support hamster to comfort her -- at least until her next flight.