Fact Check 5: (Truthometer Post)Spirit Airlines Flushing Hamsters?

Source: The Guardian

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As I scrolled through Facebook I noticed something quite a few of my friends were reposting. I was immediately drawn to the post because there was a little picture in the corner of a hamster. I’ve always had hamsters as pets because my parents never allowed me anything that didn’t live in a cage. The post claimed that spirit airlines forced a 21 year old college student to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet before boarding a flight back to her hometown in Florida. The source says that she had contacted the airline for permission to bring her pet aboard prior to the attempt and was told there wouldn’t be an issue.  According to Guardian, Spirit Airlines admits to falsely telling the girl that the hamster would be able to fly. However, they deny ever telling the young girl to harm the animal in any way. I figured this would be a good article to fact check because it unintentionally focuses on animal cruelty, a topic that I personally, and many others, don’t take lightly. It also touches on the recent crack down on emotional support animals.

As for my first step, I decided to read laterally on the Guardian. I wanted to know what other sources had to say and research how credible the site actually is. Instead of going simply browsing The Guardians site, I first tried Wikipedia with process, expertise, and aim in mind. I didn’t find any information on whether or not wikipedia thought the guardian to be a reliable source, so I went to plan B. I google searched, “is the guardian reliable” (I don’t know what i’d do without google). One of the first few links was one to mediabiasfactcheck.com. Here’s what this site had to say regarding the topic:

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I’ve used mediabiasfactcheck.com in the past, and trust their judgement. According to them, the factual reporting is ranked high. This is a good thing.

At this point, I still haven’t come to the conclusion on whether this story is true or not, so I decided take a look and see what others were saying about the incident, or if others were saying anything at all.

I backtracked back to facebook because this is where I originally found the article. I typed into their search engine, “emotional support hamster”. I wasn’t shocked when I found that many major news sights were also covering this story. Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 11.18.48 AM

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I took a look at what the fox43 site had to say, this surprisingly took me to a word press page. No offense to word press users, but this kinda struck me as a red flag immediately. The page was cluttered in sponsored content and pretty much gave me a headache to look at. So before I even bothered reading the article, I tried to look deeper into the writer for the Fox43 word press site.  The article was apparently written by Tribune Media Wire. On the site there was a link provided which I assumed would give me more information about the writer. Instead I learned from the sites About me page that this isn’t just somebody like me with a word press account, it’s a news site that also offers T.V listings, school visits, and it also has an option to look into employment with them. Although their about me page was pretty convincing and seemed to be legit. I still felt unsure about whether or not I could trust anything the site claimed.

At this point I decided to also read laterally on fox43. I first typed in “Tribune Broadcasting” onto the google search engine. This is what google gave me: Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 10.59.28 AM.png

I was interested in learning that this is an American media company, but I also took note of its parent organization and was happy to get an actual name. Next, I moved onto  Wikipedia to search Peter Liguroi. 

According to wikipedia, the man had graduated from Yale university, was a board member of Yahoo, a chairman of Fox, and also produced a film. Judging by his background, I would label him as someone in the know.

After learning this, I decided that it was probably okay to go back and keep reading..

The story this site offered was pretty much the same as The Gurdians, but with more detail. This page added in that 21 year old Aldecosea is now planning to file a lawsuit against the airline. Fox43 also offered the full statement from Spirit:

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which also included a link to the airlines emotional support animal policy. 

The two articles I have read so far failed to provide information regarding whether or not the young girl had the proper documentation for her pet.

I wanted to see if this statement was actually something posted by Spirit Airlines. I copy and pasted the entire statement and not only found that other sites such as FoxNews also included the statement in their story, but the airline also posted a comment onto their twitter page regarding the topic.

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Being that this is posted by a verified twitter page, It does help to make the whole incident a little more believable. However, it wasn’t the whole statement.. just part of it.

Next I tried to find the girls social media accounts to see what she had been saying about the incident herself.  I first looked her up on Facebook figuring most people have an account, but I was unable to find her. Next I went to twitter, the girl is actually getting a-lot of hate sham on twitter, and it looks like if she did have an account, its now been deleted.

Feeling a little stuck, I looked to see if anyone else had already fact-checked this story. I decided to visit snopes first. AND THERE YOU HAVE IT!

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 I must admit this result is one i’m not particularly happy about… this fact might be unproven. But just for now!
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