NH Family says they were told their service dog wasn’t allowed in Santa picture

NASHUA, N.H (WHDH) - A family at a New Hampshire mall was waiting to take a picture with Santa, when they say they were told their service dog was not allowed to join them.

Ten-year-old Oliva depends on her service dog, Romeo, for help. She has Rett Syndrome, and her dog can detect her seizures before they happen.

“He comes and he alerts me of her seizure, and then he does climb on top of her to keep her safe during the seizure,” said Jill Twig, Olivia’s mother.

Twigg says that is what it is so important for Romeo the dog to be at her daughter’s side. It is also why she says she was so upset when a Santa at the Pheasant Lane Mall would not allow it.

“I was really angry at first because the first thing Santa said to me was ‘You need to bring him back on pet day…’” said Twigg. “I was like ‘no, no, no, he’s a service dog, he’s a full-fledged, service dog,’ and he goes ‘Nope, you’re going to have to bring him back on pet day,’’ she continued.

Twigg said she and Olivia left the mall in frustration.

Cherry Hill Programs, the Santa experience providers for the Pheasant Lane Mall, responded with a statement that said they have a “clear protocol that welcomes all Service Dogs to visit our program. The statement also said in part: “We are providing a special Santa visit to the Twiggs and their service dog Romeo so they may capture their own magical memories this Holiday Season.”

Twigg said she wants people to know the laws regarding service dogs, and she has not decided whether or not she will accept another visit from Santa.

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