Bad Santa Turns Away 7-Year-Old Girl With Autism

santaJust like every other child, Abcde Santos went to the mall hoping to sit on Santa's lap and tell him all the things she wanted for Christmas. However, when she arrived with her mother, it was anything but a magical, happy experience. The Santa at the Shops at Mission Viejo refused to see the 7-year-old.

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His twisted reason? Jolly old St. Nick was afraid of the autistic girl's service dog, which happens to be a pit bull. When they tried to explain that it was a trained service dog, he then claimed to be allergic. Anyone else think that is a seriously lame excuse? I will concede that pits can be very intimidating dogs. Fair or not, they have a very bad rep. But this is one instance where this guy should have shelved his fears. Besides, it was a dog trained to be around a child in need, far from the menacing ones you may see in backyards.

This was a little girl filled with all the regular hopes and dreams of all kids at Christmastime. But after waiting in line for half an hour, she was turned away. "For an autistic child to wait in line for 30 minutes, that's an accomplishment in itself," said Julie Miller, a family friend and service animal advocate. Instead, she left the mall completely heartbroken.

When the Santos family called the mall to complain, administrators were quick to apologize and asked the family to return for a "special Santa experience." Hopefully, that will help make up for that painful, first rejection. In the future, perhaps they should make sure all the staff are better educated about people with disabilities and certainly more sympathetic toward them.

Do you think this Santa had a right to refuse to be near the little girl and her dog?

 

Image © Tetra Images/Corbis

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