12/03/2014 12:43 pm ET Updated Dec 04, 2014

7-Year-Old Girl With Autism Turned Away By Mall Santa Because Of Her Service Dog

Clarification: A stock photograph used previously to illustrate this story depicted a Santa Claus who was in no way associated with this incident. We regret the error.

A 7-year-old girl with autism was turned away by the mall santa in Mission Viejo, California, last week after waiting in line with her service dog for a half-hour. The parties involved have since apologized for the incident.

Pup-cake, a pit bull, has been with Abcde Santos for years now. The Santa said he was allergic to the dog, according to the Orange County Register, but when the Santos family offered to take the dog outside, he still refused to let Abcde sit on his lap.

"The fact the Abcde was able to wait in line for 30 minutes was something that was to be highly celebrated," family friend and service animal advocate Julie Miller told Los Angeles' ABC7. "Any person who has a child on the spectrum would look at that and think 'Wow.'"

Simon Property management and The Shops at Mission Viejo have taken action since the incident.

"We share in your concerns regarding the situation today involving a Santa at The Shops at Mission Viejo," a post on the shops' Facebook page reads. "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."

Judy Noerr, of the Noerr Programs, also responded on Facebook, writing, in part: "The entire team at The Noerr Programs sincerely apologizes for any distress caused by this situation, and truly regrets the incident."

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Caught ya' starin'

A photo posted by PupCake The Service Dog (@pupcaketheservicedog) on

A picture from PupCake The Service Dog's Instagram account

Although the Santos family is declining interviews at this time, Miller posted an update on Facebook on Dec. 1:

The Santos family and Pup-cake the service dog would like to publicly commend Simon Property Group and the management team at The Shops at Mission Viejo mall for swiftly responding to our concerns. Along with Noerr who supplies the Santa and Elf who have handled the errant employee matters. The Santos family's goal is always equality education and their offer to provide American with disabilities act training still stands.

Simon Property Group and Miller did not immediately return The Huffington Post's requests for additional comment.



Facts about service dogs