Cindy Torok is the Ohio woman who was told she could not bring her pet baby squirrel on a plane. She said the squirrel was her emotional support animal, but the staff with Frontier Airlines would not allow it.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Cindy Torok’s Daughter Says She Called the Airline Ahead of Time to Confirm That the Squirrel Would Be Allowed on the Plane
Cindy Torok was traveling from Orlando to Cleveland on Tuesday, October 9. Her daughter Monica spoke with CBS affiliate WKMG-TV in Orlando about the lead-up to the confrontation at the airport. Monica explained that she called Frontier Airlines twice, to make sure her mother was allowed to bring the squirrel, named Daisy, on the flight,
Monica said an airline representative said it would not be a problem as long as the animal remained in the pet carrier. She was also told that Cindy needed to have a doctor’s note with her, confirming that Daisy is an emotional support animal.
But when Cindy Torok boarded the plane with Daisy, she was told the squirrel was not allowed to be there. Both were escorted off the plane. Torok took another flight home the next day. Daisy remained in Florida with Monica and Cindy’s husband Michael, at their home in Lakeland. Monica told the news station, “It was just heartbreaking to me. They were wrong for the way they treated my mom.”
2. The Torok Family Shared the Doctor’s Note That Stated Cindy Needed the Squirrel to Help Calm her Anxiety About Flying
Frontier Airlines had reportedly requested a doctor’s note to confirm that Cindy Torok had an emotional support animal. They shared the note with WKMG-TV.
“I am familiar with [Cindy Torok’s] health history and the functional limitations imposed by her anxiety disorder. Due to this emotional need, Cindy has certain limitations related to her anxiety level. In order to help alleviate these difficulties, and to enhance her ability to function independently while flying, I have prescribed Cindy to obtain a pet or emotional support animal. The presence of this animal is necessary for the emotional health of Cindy because its presence will mitigate the symptoms she experiences when flying.
Please allow Cindy Torok to be accompanied by her emotional support animal in the cabin of the aircraft, in accordance with the Air Carrier Access Act.
I am licensed by the state of Florida to practice psychiatry. My license number is ARNP 9323160, NPI 1942688403.”
3. Frontier Airlines Does Not Allow Rodents & Stated That Cindy Torok’s Reservation Did Not Specify That Her Emotional Support Animal Was a Squirrel
Cindy Torok initially refused to leave the plane on October 9. Frontier Airlines called police. The airline had everyone else get off the plane, and when officers arrived, they escorted Torok to the terminal. She was not arrested.
Frontier Airlines issued the following statement about the incident:
“On flight 1612 from Orlando to Cleveland this evening, a passenger boarded the aircraft with a squirrel saying it was an emotional support animal. The passenger noted in their reservation that they were bringing an emotional support animal but it was not indicated that it was a squirrel. Rodents, including squirrels, are not allowed on Frontier flights. The passenger was advised of the policy and asked to deplane. When she refused to deplane Orlando Police were called and requested that everyone be deplaned so they could deal with the passenger. Police eventually escorted the passenger off the aircraft and took her to the main terminal.”
The airline lists its rules about animals on its website under “Frequently Asked Questions.” It says:
“Yes, domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters or small household birds may be carried on flights within the United States for a one-way directional charge of $75. Only domesticated dogs and cats may be carried to or from international destinations. For safety reasons, your pet must stay in their travel container at all times. We do not allow pets to be checked as baggage.”
4. Torok Explained That When She Was Taken off the Plane, Some in the Crowd Were Supportive But Described Others as ‘Obnoxious’
Cindy Torok spoke with Inside Edition about her experience. She was taken off the Frontier Airlines plane in a wheelchair. The rest of the passengers had been waiting in the terminal.
Torok explained that some of the passengers were supportive and had encouraging words such as “stand your ground.” But she described a few others as “obnoxious.” The flight had been delayed two hours.
In the interview, she became emotional when asked what it was like to fly without 11-week-old Daisy. Torok was reportedly planning to hire an attorney to take action against the airline.
5. Cindy Torok is a Grandmother & Owns at Least Three Pets
According to her Facebook page, Cindy Torok lives in North Madison, Ohio. It is located along Lake Erie about 45 miles northeast of Cleveland. As reported by WKMG-TV, the family also owns a home in Lakeland, Florida, east of Tampa.
Torok has been married since 1981 and has two daughters. She also has a baby grandson named Charles (who has his own Facebook page already).
Tork is an animal lover. Her Facebook page includes several photos of her three pets. She shared her first photo of Daisy on September 26, confirming in the “comments” that she had adopted the squirrel just a few days prior.
Torok has a pet lizard, named Tootsie. She appears to be a Bearded Dragon.
Torok also has a Boxer, which she describes as “such a cool breed of dogs.”