Fears Are Not Facts


7-year-old Abcde Santos and her service dog, Pup-Cake.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to hear the story of a mall Santa turning away an autistic child because he was afraid of her service dog, a pit bull.

Abcde Santos and her service dog, Pup-cake, waited in line for over half an hour for a chance to meet Santa. Children on the autism spectrum often become overwhelmed by lights and sounds, especially when waiting. But Abcde's brave and impressive wait was met with disappointment when Santa not only refused to see her and Pup-cake because "those dogs eat people", but wouldn't even see her after Pup-cake was removed from the building. Abcde's mom says he then refused to see her because "they support those dogs."

While it's all well and good that the mall staff and property management were quick to rectify the situation, firing the uncooperative Santa and offering Abcde and Pup-cake a private visit with a kinder Santa, there is still so much more to be learned from this incident.

The media has demonized pit bulls to such an extent that fears are now facts in the eyes of the general public. Some of the most pervasive myths include that pit bulls suddenly "snap" and attack without warning, that they have a "locking jaw" mechanism that allows them to bite and hold without letting go, and that they are "unpredictable"--all of which are based on fears, not facts.

I encourage you to read my article covering The Truth About Pit Bulls. It's time for the public to be educated on the facts about pit bulls, instead of making hurtful decisions based on unfounded fears.

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Positively Expert: Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the internationally acclaimed TV series, It’s Me or the Dog. A bestselling author, Stilwell frequently appears in the media as a pet expert and is widely recognized and respected as a leader in the field of animal behavior.


5 thoughts on “Fears Are Not Facts

  1. Shelly

    As both an autism parent and dog trainer, this story makes me so angry! I
    just had a client last night with the sweetest, though timid, rottie
    who was told never to play tug of war with her! I told her that comes
    from the agressive breed myth and playing tug, so long as it's done
    correctly, has never resulted in biting.

  2. Kirsty Macfarlane

    It shouldn't matter if she has autism the world has gone mad! They're dogs and everybody is behaving as if you carry a loaded gun it's getting worse here in the uk. On top of having to own the perfect dog the amount of dogs that are being stolen is getting out of control I'm glad my 2 would behave aggressively enough to put someone off coming near. Just heard of a staffie being taken in Paisley the owner was picking up after the dog, while the dog was still on the lead, the guy stood on their wrist and took the dog away in a blue van with an Irish plate. So I won't be going out my way to make my dogs friendly they behave exactly how I want and need them to I've said this time and time again people need to treat dogs with more respect and raise their children to follow example! My girl got the life termented out of her during her development stage by the men and kids that stayed near me and she now doesn't tolerate either and what makes me even angrier is I took her everywhere with me so she was well socialised. I do know my dogs wouldn't attack unless I was under threat and even then they're gsds and from my experience they're not guilty of biting then again no dog is.

  3. Janet Langley

    Nothing wrong with pitbulls lovely dogs we have staffys in England and when pitbull and paroles was on we loved it one fantastic program and great family

  4. Mark Chase

    If it really was allergies as you suggest, then what was "bad santa's" excuse for refusing to see the little girl AFTER the dog was taken away? Sounds like more irrational uneducated fears to me.

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