Lazo, 35, empathized with Rumfola's concern given that he's himself a pet parent to two dogs. 'I have two dogs — I wouldn’t want to abandon them somewhere,' he said.
Nineteen-year-old Kira Rumfola finished her first year majoring in early-childhood education at the University of Tampa, packed her luggage, and flew to the airport with her favorite roommate, Theo, a vibrant betta fish. Rumfola was excited to bring the little fish she had become attached to. “I’d done it before over the holidays with another airline, so I filled the container with water and put Theo in it,” she said. But, this time, she faced a problem.
A customer service representative for Southwest Airlines, Ismael Lazo, observed the deep blue and purple fish while Rumfola was checking in her luggage and informed Rumfola that the airline's pet policy only let small dogs and cats onboard in carriers, reported Washington Post. Other animals are not allowed on airplanes. “All of my roommates had already gone home for the summer and I had nobody to leave Theo with,” said Rumfola, adding, “I was really sad and wondered what I was going to do. He’s my pet.”
peak post 9/11 insanity 20+ years in the making. congrats, america— _donjolly_ (@donjolly10) September 22, 2022
Rumfola got Theo from a pet store in Tampa last year to keep herself and her new roommates company in their on-campus apartment during their first year away from home. “He was such a pretty color and when I got him home, I saw he had a fun little personality,” Rumfola said. “He liked to do laps around his fishbowl.” Lazo, 35, empathized with Rumfola's concern given that he's himself a pet parent to two dogs. “I have two dogs — I wouldn’t want to abandon them somewhere,” he said. “And I also know how hard it is to leave them when I go out of town.” He made a quick decision to just offer his services to babysit Theo while she finishes her trip and returns! “How about if I take your fish home to live with me and my fiancee until you come back for college in the fall?” he impulsively told her. “You can text me over the summer to see how he’s doing whenever you like.”
Imagine living in a world where your fish gets declined to travel freely in this shitt world 🙄— Phoebe (@educatematrix) September 22, 2022
Lazo noted the smile on Rumfola's face. He felt pleased about his unexpected offer right away. There was just one catch: Lazo admitted to Rumfola that he knew nothing about taking care of a pet fish, but he was prepared to give it a shot. “She gave me her fish kit — some food and some water conditioner — then told me how often to clean the water,” he recalled. “I told her I would do my very best to keep Theo happy.”
Rumfola expressed her delight at Lazo's proposal and pledged to drop in frequently during the summer to see how Theo was doing in his temporary residence. Rumfola claimed that leaving him at the airport would have been cruel. She stated she was glad to accept the best choice, sending him out to spend a few months with Lazo. He had the appearance of being trustworthy. “It was so nice that he would take on the responsibility of watching my fish,” she said. “I knew I’d miss Theo over the summer, but I was thankful to know he’d be cared for.”
Her fish wasn’t allowed to fly. An airline worker looked after it for 4 months. https://t.co/pfZ5xuHLd6— Earle Kimel (@earlekimel) September 22, 2022
She texted him as soon as her flight landed and she got home. “Hi Ismael, it’s the girl from the airport with the fish! I was just wondering how he is doing. If you have any questions about Theo please feel free to text me, thank you!” He responded immediately, letting her know that he was going to get him a bigger tank. “We enjoyed having Theo around and we also noticed he got excited when my fiancee was doing the dishes,” Lazo said.
When she returned to school in Tampa in late August, Rumfola presented Jamee Golub, Lazo's fiancee, a store gift card and some candies as a token of appreciation when she went to Lazo's apartment to pick up the fish. Although it was time to reunite Rumfola with Theo, he confessed he didn't feel sad. “To be honest, I was worried about something happening to him on our watch,” he said. “So I was happy for Kira to have him back.”