Fried chicken chain KFC said a franchised restaurant in Mississippi has hired an investigator to look into claims that an employee asked a 3-year-old girl and family members to leave because injuries she suffered in a pit bull mauling disturbed customers.
KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said the company is concerned that the Jackson, Mississippi, restaurant's internal investigation couldn't verify the incident. An outside investigator will conduct an independent investigation, Maynard said.
KFC's commitment of $30,000 to help with the child's medical bills will not be affected by the investigation's outcome, Maynard said. KFC is owned by Yum Brands Inc.
Allegations that Victoria Wilcher was asked to leave the restaurant were made earlier this month on the Facebook site Victoria's Victories, which has followed the child's recovery from the attack. KFC posted an apology the next morning and asked for details of the alleged incident.
Teri Rials Bates, the child's aunt, runs the Victoria's Victories site.
A posting Tuesday at Victoria's Victories denied the claim was a hoax.
"I promise it's not a hoax, I never thought any of this would blow up the way it has," the post said.
"I have personally watched this family go without to provide for Victoria. They have not and would not do anything to hurt Victoria in any way," the posting said.
No one immediately responded to a message seeking comment that was sent through the Facebook page.
Earlier, the child's grandmother, Kelly Mullins, recounted the alleged KFC incident to Jackson television station WAPT-TV.
She said the child had just been to see a doctor and stopped at the restaurant. After they ordered, an employee approached, she said.
"They just told us, they said, 'We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers,'" Mullins told the TV station.
In her posts, Bates said the child was attacked by three pit bulls while visiting her grandfather in April and suffered injuries to her face. Since then, she has undergone reconstructive surgery, Bates said.