I have a young friend and neighbor who suffers from multiple medical problems and is on disability. One of his medical problems is that he suffers from seizures and for the past few months he has had a trained, certified service dog which "alerts" him when a seizure is imminent. The dog is also trained to awaken him if his Cpap machine malfunctions while he is sleeping, and to pick things up from the floor that have been dropped or fallen. I have watched this dog work and he is amazing.
This young friend had not attended church for quite some time - a year perhaps - and decided he needed to go back to church.
Maybe I'm misinformed, but I thought service dogs were allowed anywhere. I know this dog is allowed into our local stores and restaurants with no problem. Is there a rule somewhere about churches??
Anyway, my friend was stunned and left before services began.
Someone on HT uses part of a poem in their signature line that I want to borrow here:
Oh, shame on the mothers of mortals who did not stop to teach
Of the love that lies in dear dumb eyes - the love that has no speech.
For the same Hand made the animals that fashioned man and king.
And the God of the whole gave a spark of soul to each furred and feathered thing.
I don't know what happened either, but completely agree that service dogs should be allowed in church. We used to attend a small church in Phoenix along with a woman who attended every Sunday with her service dog.
If every parishioner had behaved as nicely in church as that dog, we would have had one heck of an amazing congregation!
I tried to edit to add why he left but somehow it didn't work. He went in the church with his dog by his side and wearing his work vest and ID. One of the church deacons came back and told him the dog was not allowed to be in the church.
I'd bet that deacon is misinformed. He needs to go talk to the priest, preacher or whoever. Working dogs are allowed anywhere. I use to work for a lawyer who was blind and if we went to a restaurant, store or anywhere that someone tried to keep her dog out, she set them straight.
Oh that deacon is in BIG trouble!!!
He needs to let the minister know even if he plans to not attend again.
The minister would want to kow so that he can be sure that the doors of his church are open to all in the future.
The deacon was mistaken. I am sure he meant no true harm, but was just ignorant of the facts of the matter.
If you want, I would politely call for him. Not to be nasty, but just to inform.
I am a preacher's kid, you know.
I agree with Chickenista.... have someone call the head minister of the church and tell him what happened, and let him know that not only did your friend feel very unwelcome, they are in violation of the law.
You wouldn't even have to go that far. The minute you mention that someone was turned away and why, the minister will take it from there.
He knows the law.
And he knows that disabled and the ill need the church as much or more than healthy folks.
There will be a meeting where he nicely informs the elders and deacons etc.. and a notice in the bulletin next Sunday.
Oh, my friend himself was not turned away - just informed that the dog could not remain in the church. But I can imagine how it made him feel. He is a very on-confrontational type person. He did try to tell the deacon that the dog was a certified service animal but I don't think the man really cared. Either that, or he is quite ignorant to the law. I thought everyone was aware that service dogs are welcomed everywhere.
When he told me about it this afternoon, my heart just ached for him. He and that dog are so totally bonded and he is so dependent on the dog. I told him some of the same things many of you are posting, but I think he is hesitant to make an issue of it. Never mind - the church WILL hear about it.
every church i have been to allowed service dogs , but some peopl ehave a very hard time understanding anything but seeing eye dogs , the seaizure dogs are relitivly new and it often does not appear that the dog is nessacary IE the person can see so what do thay need dogs for is the uninformed thinking
i am sorry your friend had such a horrible experience - there are churches that let pocket/purse dogs attend service as long as they are restrained, after all - dogs are members of the family and we are all God's creatures.
if he was in my neck of the world- I'd proudly invite him to attend service with our family. the church would be glad to have another warm body at the service --- we are a shrinking congregation.
maybe he needs to meet with the head of the church and explain what his service dog does for him and then let the church inform the congregation of their new visitor so he will get the proper welcome
There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.
Thank you, Greencountrypete. That's a bit like jumping all over someone because they park in a handicapped parking space and aren't in a wheel chair. Some people are just too, too quick to judge. However, one would think that good church people would be more tolerant and kind.
"Though service animals of all kinds can legally accompany their disabled handler almost anywhere the handler goes, they can be excluded from areas where their presence would constitute either a fundamental alteration of goods and services available for all or a direct threat to safety. Examples where a service animal might be excluded include:
-Sterile rooms, such as operating rooms, some areas of emergency rooms/departments, some ICU rooms, some ambulances, some delivery rooms (on a case-by-case basis)
-Clean rooms where microchips are manufactured
-Places where food is prepared (though they cannot generally be excluded from dining areas where food is present) (by order of most health departments)
-Open air zoological exhibits, such as open air aviaries (at the zoo's discretion)
-Churches (at the church's discretion)
-Native American Tribal Council Chambers (at the council's discretion)
-Federal Courts (at the judge's discretion)
-Private clubs (at the club's discretion)
-Private homes (at the home owner's discretion) "