"I didn't have any other options", she told the Herald.
But according to The Miami Herald, when the 21-year-old got to the airport, Spirit's told her Pebbles couldn't board after all. She didn't have any friends or family close enough to pick up the hamster, wasn't able to rent a vehicle, and needed to return home to attend to a medical issue. But given it was the holiday season, there were no cars available.
She says she did flush Pebbles, after running out of other options.
"She was scared. I was scared".
The Miami native says Pebbles was a true comfort to her at a time when she really needed support previous year during her first semester at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Penn., when a golf-ball sized growth in her neck led to a cancer scare. "I was emotional. I was crying". I sat there for a decent 10 minutes crying in the slow down'.
Belen Aldecosea, 21, alleges that she twice checked with Spirit Airlines whether or not she could bring Pebbles with her on a flight home from Maryland to Florida and on both occasions was told there would not be a problem.
"Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit Airlines", said Spirit spokesman Derek Dombrowski.
Aldecosea skipped her flight and tried to rent a auto instead, but said she was too young to rent one.
"Our records indicate the guest took that later flight with no further incident", Dombrowksi said. Finally, sobbing in an airport bathroom, Aldecosea flushed the creature down the toilet.
"One of the representatives started giving me little tips like, 'Oh you should just leave her, or flush her down the toilet, '" Aldecosea said.
"It is incredibly disheartening to hear this guest reportedly chose to end her own pet's life", Dombrowksi's statement continued. That's when she bought Pebbles for comfort.
A United spokesperson said they rejected the peacock for several reasons, including its weight and size.
Aldecosea said she flushed her beloved pet only after trying six different rental vehicle agencies.
But Aldecosea said she's considering suing Spirit over the conflicting instructions that pressured her into making the decision.
Aldecosea's lawyer, Adam Goodman, sees the cases very differently however.
Despite Spirits own guidelines the US Transportation Safety Administration allows carry-on hamsters. "A hamster does not pose a security risk and TSA is focused on security risks".
While individual airlines determine which pets get to fly, most major carriers including American, Delta and United don't allow rodents due to safety and health concerns, according to the newspaper.
Airlines are convinced that some emotional support animals abuse the rules, especially when most passengers often have to pay $125 or more each way to bring a small pet on board.