KFC says it will donate $30,000 to the family of a three-year-old girl who was asked to leave one of its restaurants because her scars from a vicious pit bull attack were frightening other customers.
That donation, coupled with a donation page set up in the injured girl's name that has raised more than $80,000 so far, will help offset her medical bills.
The girl, Victoria Wilcher, was badly injured in the pit bull attack in April. Her grandmother, Kelly Mullins, said she was driving her granddaughter home from the hospital in early June when they stopped at KFC for mashed potatoes.
“They just told us, ‘We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers,’" Mullins told WAPT-TV. "[Victoria] understood exactly what they said."
The dog attack, Mullins explained, has made it difficult for her granddaughter to swallow.
"The right side of her face is paralysed," Mullins said. "She's got a lot of surgeries to go through, and she won't even look in the mirror anymore. When we go to a store, she doesn't even want to get out [of the car]. She's three years old, and she's embarrassed about what she looks like."
But the incident at KFC left Victoria in tears.
“No matter what’s wrong with a person, if a person’s different, if a person’s scarred, or is a different color or anything, people shouldn’t be discriminated against,” Mullins continued. "It makes me mad, because I know for the rest of her life, it’s going to be like that.”
Mullins wrote about her experience at KFC on a Facebook page that had been created in April to give friends updates on Victoria's recovery. The story soon went viral, and KFC responded on Facebook the next day.
"Please accept our sincere apologies while we try to investigate this incident," said a comment submitted by the restaurant. "If you could help provide details of the incident ... we will look into this immediately."
KFC spokesman Rick Maynard released a statement to the Associated Press: "As soon as we were notified of this report on Friday, we immediately began an investigation, as this kind of hurtful and disrespectful action would not be tolerated by KFC. Regardless of the outcome of our investigation, we have apologised to Victoria's family and are committed to assisting them. The company is making a $30,000 donation to assist with her medical bills. The entire KFC family is behind Victoria."
Investigators said three pit bulls attacked Victoria in the backyard of her grandfather's home. According to WAPT-TV, the grandfather, Donald Mullins — Kelly Mullins' ex-husband — shot and killed two of the dogs; a third was euthanized. The grandfather and his girlfriend were later arrested on child-endangerment charges.
According to Simpson County Sheriff Kenneth Lewis, Donald Mullins was keeping 10 pit bulls at his home at the time of the attack.
"This is probably the worst [pit bull attack] we've ever had," Lewis said.