Mall Takes Action When Santa Rejects Little Girl With Autism
For this 7-year-old with autism, a trip to visit Santa was not at all what she expected. But a mall in Mission Viejo, California, took the right steps to defend her and her friendly service pit bull.
Abcde (pronounced Ab-Suh-Dee) Santos, was waiting in line to see Santa at The Shops at Mission Viejo on Sunday when she was denied access to St. Nick, according to ABC News. The man playing Santa allegedly disliked Abcde’s pit bull service dog, Pup-Cake, and refused to see the little girl even after her mother offered to take the dog outside.
Abcde has autism, so standing in line with her family for 30 minutes was more difficult than it would be for most children.
The Santa allegedly made comments like, “Those dogs eat people,” and then said he couldn’t see the girl without the dog because of his allergies, according to a statement Abcde’s family released on Facebook.
Family friend and service dog activist Julie Miller, who’s in charge of the Pup-Cake the Service Dog’s Facebook fan page told The OC Register that Abcde was “heartbroken” by the incident.
The family contacted representatives from the shopping center who responded quickly.
“We do not condone the behavior displayed by Santa and have worked with our partners at Noerr, the company that hires our Santas, to replace this Santa with one that is more compassionate to our guests’ needs,” The Shops at Mission Viejo posted on its Facebook page.
Miller says the family hopes the incident will serve to teach others about their rights.
“They want people to get educated, not about autism or pit bulls, but about the Disabilities Act so that little girls like Abcde won’t go and see Santa and end up crying,” she told the OC Register.
The Shops at Mission Viejo also added:
Every year, The Shops at Mission Viejo hosts Caring Santa experiences, a sensory-friendly environment for families of children with special needs to safely enjoy the time-honored tradition and magic of Santa. This year, The Shops at Mission Viejo is expanding its Caring Santa program beyond the previously-scheduled Sunday, December 7 event. Additional Caring Santa reservations will be available tomorrow after 9 a.m. at this link: http://caringsantasmv.eventbrite.com
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