A mall Santa turned into horrible Grinch when he refused to take a picture with a seven-year-old autistic girl on Sunday at The Shops at Mission Viejo in Orange County. Santa Claus was reportedly afraid of the girl’s service dog, a five-year-old pitbull.
Little Abcde Santos patiently waited in line for 30 minutes alongside her canine companion Pup-Cake in hopes to get her picture taken with Santa. Then when her turn finally came, Santa declined to take a picture with Abcde because he was reportedly afraid of her service dog.
“For an autistic child to wait in line for 30 minutes, that’s an accomplishment in itself,” said family friend Julie Miller, who also runs the Pup-Cake the Service Dog Facebook fan page.
Even when the Santos family offered to take the dog away so Santa could take a picture with little Abcde alone, he still refused. Santa then reportedly went on to claim he had dog allergies. And the worst part? Abcde went home crying that day, with no Santa photo in-hand and her holiday spirit completely crushed. Way to ruin Christmas dreams, Santa!
Unfortunately this isn’t the first time the Santos family has gotten into a situation like this one. Miller says it’s not completely uncommon for them to be treated unkindly because of their dog’s breed.
“This particular dog… she’s trained, not menacing, and she’s little,” Miller said.
In efforts to try to turn things around, the Santos family launched a social media campaign called #savePupcakesChristmas. They asked supporters to send in pictures of their own pooches in their best holiday get-up, all in hopes to restore little Abcde’s holiday spirit.
But wait! It gets better. After the Santos family reported their horrible Santa experience to mall representatives, they immediately fired Santa along with one of his elves. “We look forward to welcoming back the Santos family and Pup-Cake for a special Santa experience,” The Shops at Mission Viejo wrote on their Facebook page.
As for the Santos family, they hope their experience can bring more awareness to the American Disabilities Act, which prohibits the discrimination against people with disabilities and their service dogs.
“(The Santos family) 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,” said Miller.
Let’s hope Abcde and her little companion Pup-Cake get the magical Santa experience they deserve!