MISSION VIEJO, Calif.–It turns out that a local Santa Claus and elf were really just Christmas grinches in disguise.
A little girl was turned away while trying to visit a Christmas display at The Shops at Mission Viejo because she had a pit bull with her as a service dog. Abcde Santos–pronounced “Ab-suh-Dee”–was with her family and Pupcake, who she has had with her since 2009, when, according to a Facebook page dedicated to Pupcake the Service Dog, Santa refused to take a picture wit her because “those dogs eat people.”
The Facebook page says that Abcde’s mom offered to take Pupcake out of the mall completely and even asked if Santa would just smile and wave at Abcde, but Santa said “No because they support those dogs.” The family explained the laws regarding service dogs, at which point they say Santa suddenly said he was allergic.
The page further states that Abcde was going to ask Santa what he wanted for Christmas so that she could make it for him.
On Pupcake’s Facebook page’s “about me” section it describes the journey the two have taken together. According to the page, which is written from Pupcake’s point of view, doctors told her family she wouldn’t be able to bond or make emotional connections. After Pupcake joined the family the two became best friends. “There is no Abcde without pup, they were born the moment they met,” the page says Mr. Santos said.
The Noerr Programs, which provides digital event imaging and marketing services–including photos with Santa–to shopping centers nationwide, apologized for the incident. The company’s CEO, Judy Noerr, wrote a post on the Facebook page for The Shops at Mission Viejo saying that on Sunday, Dec. 7 the company will present its Caring Santa at the mall. The Caring Santa is a program started in 2011 for kids with special needs, and it can be found in 119 locations across the U.S.
The Facebook post from Noerr also said that the company reached out to the girl and her family and invited her to a private visit with Santa, complete with complimentary photos of the girl and her dog.
The family released a statement saying that the incident was resolved by both Simon Property Group, which owns The Shops at Mission Viejo, the management team at the mall and Noerr. The Santa and the elf were fired.