When Belen Aldecosea tried to board a Spirit Airlines flight from Baltimore to her Florida hometown for surgery to remove a growth on her neck, she was informed her support hamster, Pebbles, would not be allowed. And according to Aldecosea, an airline worker told her the unthinkable -- that she could either flush Pebbles down the toilet or let the animal outside in the freezing weather.

What followed should have never happened. Aldecosea says she flushed the innocent hamster -- the same one who had helped her emotionally cope with her scary medical condition -- down the airport toilet.

To inflict such a terrifying, painful death on any animal is a clear case of cruelty. The callous act of killing would not be acceptable for a dog, cat or human, nor is it acceptable for a hamster.

Aldecosea claimed she called Spirit to make sure Pebbles would be permitted to fly, and Spirit acknowledges that she was told the hamster would be allowed (though they deny the suggestion to flush the animal down the toilet). Regardless, there is no excuse for inflicting such cruelty.

It would have been little trouble to save the hamster's life. Notifying a local animal rescue group -- or even simply asking if a compassionate person at the airport could take Pebbles -- would have prevented this death.

Law enforcement must take action to ensure that such a sad, needless event never happens again. Sign this petition urging the Maryland Transportation Authority Police to thoroughly investigate this case, file charges against all responsible parties and make it clear that the torture and killing of any animal will not be tolerated.

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