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Woman with 'emotional support squirrel' removed from plane

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By SOPHIA ROSENBAUM
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Police at a Florida airport removed a passenger who refused to get off a Cleveland-bound flight after she was found carrying an "emotional support squirrel."

Passengers had already boarded Frontier Airlines Flight 1612 at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday night when they were told there was a "situation" and everyone needed to get off the plane, according to passenger Brandon Nixon.

"Everyone was a little panicked. You expect the worst when they say something like that," the 24-year-old Ashland, Ohio resident said. "A lot of people were asking questions. People wanted to know what was going on."

As he exited the plane, Nixon said he asked a flight attendant if she had any other information. "All she said was 'a squirrel,'" he said.

But once they were back in the terminal, "word spread pretty quickly" about what was happening.

Frontier says the passenger had noted in her reservation that she was bringing an emotional support animal with her on the flight, but she did not indicate it was a squirrel. Rodents, including squirrels, are not one of the emotional support animals allowed on Frontier flights, according to its website.

The airline says police were called when the passenger refused to leave the plane. Nixon captured video of the moment the woman was escorted through the terminal, pumping her fist in the air as she clutched her carry-on bag with the squirrel on her lap.

"I knew I had to capture that moment just to show it. It's such an odd thing. Something you don't see every day," Nixon said.

The passengers boarded the plane 15 minutes later, taking off about two hours late. It arrived at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport at 11:57 p.m. EDT. But Nixon said most of the passengers didn't mind the delay because it was such a unique situation.

"This is going to be a story to remember for the rest of our lives," he said.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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