Share Alex Lasker, AOL.com Oct 11th 2018 10:08AM A woman who was removed from a Frontier Airlines flight over her emotional support squirrel says she plans to seek legal counsel in wake of the ordeal.
Cindy Torok was escorted off Flight 1612, traveling from Orlando, Florida, to Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, after airline staff discovered she brought her 11-week-old squirrel Daisy on board.
When Torok defied staff requests and refused to get off the plane, police were called to remove her. Soon after authorities arrived, all of the passengers on the flight were deplaned and Torok and her pet were taken off the aircraft.
Torok claims that she had a letter from her doctor and a letter from the Americans with Disabilities Act permitting her to travel with Daisy as a comfort animal. She also says her daughter called Frontier ahead of time to get clearance.
Video: Woman Kicked Off Plane Over Emotional Support Squirrel Plans to Fight Airline
The airline says that although Torok had, in fact, noted in her reservation that she would be traveling with an emotional support animal, she did not indicate the pet was a squirrel, WJW reported.
According to the airlines policy regarding animals, “rodents, including squirrels, are not allowed” on its flights, regardless of their function.
Flight 1612 departed for Cleveland, Ohio, two hours after schedule. Torok was reimbursed for the cost of her ticket and given a voucher for another flight, which landed her back in Cleveland on Wednesday morning.
In an interview with WJW, Torok lamented the way the airline handled the incident and said she plans to hire a lawyer.
“They said, Either you walk off the plane or Im going to arrest you for trespassing, and we will take that squirrel. I said, Youre not taking my squirrel. Sorry, youre not. I refuse. You will not take my baby from me.”
Torok, who owns other exotic animals like lizards and bearded dragons, said she got the squirrel three weeks ago to help with her anxiety in crowds.
In January 2018, United Airlines made headlines for refusing to allow a woman to travel with her emotional support peacock. The story sparked debate over what types of animals should be allowed aboard commercial planes, as well as suggestions that some passengers might be abusing the system.
Some airlines now require doctors notes from passengers traveling with comfort animals, along with advanced notification and the animals vaccination records.
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LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) – A local woman experienced first-hand what happened when a woman refused to get off an airplane with her squirrel.
Flight 1612 bound for Cleveland was delayed Tuesday night because the owner refused to exit the plane with her emotional support animal.
It was a memorable flight for Cassondra Hartsfield to say the least. The Liberty woman was waiting for her flight to take off from Orlando to Cleveland when she had to deboard. It was delayed because a woman had an emotional support squirrel. Hartsfield talked to her before boarding.
“I saw something move in her carrier bag, and I asked her what it was. I said, ‘Oh, you have a little puppy?’ She said, ‘No, it’s actually a squirrel,’” Hartsfield said.
The woman told Hartsfield the squirrel was 11 weeks old, a “girl” and her name was Daisy. She said her neighbor caught the squirrel and another one that was its “brother.” They each took one.
The passenger with the squirrel went through TSA with Hartsfield as agents checked the pet carrier. Agents let the woman carry the squirrel instead of putting the animal through X-ray, according to Hartsfield.
“She showed us the bottle she carried that has the squirrel’s formula and a little syringe that had a little nipple on it she said she uses for feeding,” Hartsfield said.
Once they boarded, Hartsfield said flight attendants realized what the woman had on her lap in her seat. Then, they asked her to get off the plane but she refused, so everyone had to deplane.
“It was kind of chaotic because people were rushed trying to get off because they were trying to hurry everyone to deplane,” Hartsfield said.
Passengers who left items on the plane were not permitted to go back on to retrieve them. Flight attendants had to do that.
“You just got to get off. This is their policy. You got to get off. You are holding everybody up. Everybody was just frustrated because we were already on,” Hartsfield said. "I’ve never seen such a thing in all my life –ever.”
Hartsfield is waiting to hear back from Frontier on some sort of compensation for the hours-long delay.