A US airline has hit back at a passenger who claimed she had no choice but to kill her pet hamster after it was refused entry to the plane.
US student Belen Aldecosea flushed her dwarf hamster Pebbles down the toilet after the pet was denied passage on a Spirit Airlines flight on 21st November.
She said she had been assured the hamster would be allowed to travel as an emotional support animal.
The 21-year-old said an airline employee advised her to either flush the animal or let it loose outside, adding that she chose to kill it as it was ‘more humane.’
In a statement, Spirit Airlines said: “We can say confidently that at no point did any of our agents suggest this Guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal.”
“It is incredibly disheartening to hear this Guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life.”
The airline accepted it “did misinform the Guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal.”
It insisted however that Ms Aldecosea accepted a later flight adding “she had time to find other accommodations for the animal.”
In an interview with the Miami Herald Ms Aldecosea said she made the decision to flush her pet after hours of indecision and unsuccessful attempts to rent a car.
“She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet,” she told the paper. “I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”
A number of US airlines have cracked down on the wide range of animals that are allowed to fly as therapy pets.
Last week, Dexter the emotional support peacock was blocked from boarding a United Airlines flight.
The bird had his own seat booked but was turned away for health and safety reasons.