Ho ho no. The Santa Claus at a mall in Mission Viejo, Calif., allegedly refused to allow an autistic girl to sit on his lap because of her service dog.
“Those dogs eat people,” he told 7-year-old Abcde (pronounced “Ab-suh-dee”) Santos, whose dog, Pup-Cake, is a Pit Bull.
Santos had waited in line for half an hour. She had planned to turn the tables and ask Santa what he wanted for Christmas. (Hopefully No. 1 on his list is compassion.)
“Autism is accompanied by many sensory issues, included self-harm behaviors and feeling overwhelmed at times by lights and sounds, especially when waiting; Pup-cake the service dog’s job is to intervene in those moments,” Julie Marie Miller, a spokeswoman for the Santos family, said in a statement posted on Facebook Nov. 30.
Santos’ mom “offered to take me completely out of the mall if he would just see her for 30 seconds,” according to a status update on the Pup-Cake the Service Dog Facebook page. “Or if he would use her visit time to simply smile and wink at her as she stood on the other side of the gate from far away.”
“No, because they support those dogs,” Santa allegedly replied.
When Santa was informed that what he was doing was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and against the law, he said he was allergic to dogs.
Although the family offered to remove Pup-cake from the area, “Santa still refused to see the child,” Miller said, due to “what we can only assume is the influence of breed-specific legislation.”
(Alleged witness Aine Walsh has a different version of what occurred. “Actually that’s not what really happened,” she wrote in a comment on the KTLA Facebook page. “The Santa told them he was severely allergic to dogs and asked that they come back when the other Santa was there, and the mother WENT OFF … I spoke to someone and let them know it had nothing to do with the Pit Bull.”)
After the incident, Miller contacted The Noerr Programs, the company that provided the Santa and Elf, as well as Simon Property Management, which owns The Shops at Mission Viejo.
“The entire team at The Noerr Programs sincerely apologizes for any distress caused by this situation, and truly regrets the incident,” CEO Judy Noerr said in a statement Monday.
“We have reached out to the girl’s family, in an effort to extend a private Santa visit with complimentary photos of both the child and her service dog.”
The bad Santa and his helper elf have been fired — and should probably expect to find huge lumps of coal in their stockings come Christmas morning.
Photos via Facebook