A US student is considering suing Spirit Airlines after she followed through on an alleged recommendation to flush her pet hamster down an airport toilet.
Belen Aldecosea was flying from her university in Baltimore to her family home in Florida last November, but she was banned from entry onto the plane because of her dwarf hamster Pebbles.
The rodent was her emotional support animal, and despite twice getting permission from Spirit to take it on the flight home with her, Ms Aldecosea was stopped when she tried carrying it onto the plane.
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After stressing about the best course of action to take because she needed to deal with a pressing medical issue, Ms Aldecosea claims a Spirit staffer suggested she either let it free outside or flushed it down an airport toilet.
Panicking, Ms Aldecosea says she followed through on the second idea.
"I didn't have any other options," she explained.
"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."
While Ms Aldocosea is now weighing up the prospect of filing a lawsuit against Spirit Airlines, the company denies her claim that she was told to flush it down the toilet.
"To be clear, at no point did any of our agents suggest this guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal," a spokesman said.
Spirit Airlines do acknowledge erroneously telling Ms Aldecosea that Pebbles was allowed on the plane.