Spirit Airlines: Less Hamsters, Oh No!

I don’t have a lot of words. I am really trying to think of a circumstance where I could see where this woman was coming from, but it’s not working. I’m really really trying.

Belen Aldecosea had to fly home, and she wanted to fly with Spirit Airlines. In the recent past, because of anxiety over a medical diagnosis, she decided she needed an emotional support animal, and chose a hamster. She even got a note from a doctor saying this hampster, Pebbles, was her emotional support hamster. As I said in this other post about emotional support animals on planes, emotional support animals aren’t trained and don’t do anything for the owners except give them a warm, fuzzy feeling by being there. She probably could have gotten the same effect by buying a plush toy.

Apparently she called ahead to check that she could bring Pebbles on as an emotional support animal, and was given the incorrect information that this was possible. When she arrived at the airport and started the process of checking in, she was told that this was not going to happen. Then, according to her, she was told that she could either release Pebbles into the wild or flush her down the toilet. After a lot of “agonizing”, she flushed her.

I don’t even know where to begin here. This feels like that story where the woman put her guide dog in a cabby’s trunk, only way worse. At least that poor guide dog lived. I would hope that, God Forbid if somebody told me that Tans couldn’t get on the plane and actually physically prevented us from boarding, that I would possess greater problem-solving skills than this. I would hope that I would choose not to go on that flight so I could work something out. I would make some calls. I would figure something else out that wouldn’t result in an outcome so final for Shmans. It’s not like anyone had a gun to her head or anything.

Her lawyer is trying to say that this isn’t her fault because she’s only 21 so didn’t know what to do. I remember being 21, and although I was just learning about advocating for myself, I’m pretty sure I would have done something other than this. At the very least, I might have called my folks and got some more ideas. I would have never tried to take psych rat Hope on a plane, but if I did, I can’t even begin to picture a scenario where I would flush her if I was told she couldn’t fly. Maybe I would have called a vet to figure out how to board her somewhere. Maybe I would have asked for help finding some other officials in the airport to get more ideas.

This line kills me every time I read it.

“She (Pebbles) was so loving. It was like she knew I needed somebody,”

And that was how she repaid the poor thing.

She has a new hamster. God help Pebbles 2.0.

I guess I had more words than I thought.

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