Visiting A Church With A Service Dog

By: Joel Allen

Hello, folks! I hope everyone had a great Easter. Well, as all can see, we are going to address a subject I hold dear. Now, those who read this need to understand the law pertaining to service animals. In plain speak, churches do not have to allow your service animal into the church. That being said, I have copied and pasted what the ADA has to say from their website,

Q34. Are churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship required to allow individuals to bring their service animals into the facility?

A. No. Religious institutions and organizations are specifically exempt from the ADA. However, there may be state laws that apply to religious organizations.

A couple of Sundays ago, I took Houston to the Madison Church of the Highlands. We had been there before and were never questioned by anyone. I had heard there was church security, and I had seen them but I was never approached by them until this day I visited. After my wife and I had taken our seats, I needed to go back outside the chapel; so I got Houston and we walked out. As we were exiting, one of the security officers approached us and asked if Houston was a “registered service dog.” I’ll admit I bristled a little at that question but caught myself. I get sick and tired of all the “fake service dogs” with ID cards and papers with a vest. I replied and the ADA is clear about this, “No, there is no legitimate registration.” The security officer replied that there was. I informed him that most supposed registrations were scams and that someone paid for an identity card, vest, and a certificate. He explained that he was asking if Houston was trained and not looking for papers. I replied he was and explained to the security officer that service animals could be refused access to churches according to the ADA, and I offered to leave if he told me to because the ADA is very clear on this, as stated earlier. But as I always say, do your homework and see the words for yourself. The security at the Highlands was very courteous and said that we could stay. Folks, I am a big advocate for being diplomatic during times like this. It’s like borrowing your neighbor’s tools and returning them in pristine shape. Well, because they let us stay for worship, I was going to be as accommodating as I could.

The pastor of the church came and welcomed us and stated he understood. I even shared with the security officer why I had Houston. I know, I know, “Don’t do that or they will ask others their maladies.” But see, folks, they did not have to let me have my SD. They were only being courteous and kind. So, everyone remember this when bringing your SD to church. I will put it even plainer for those who don’t understand this, “Separation of Church and State.” Easy enough.

So, service went off without a hitch and we got to stay. The moral of this story? Don’t go getting yourself worked into a “tizzy” because you were turned away from a church for bringing an SD. They do not have to allow the SD in. Besides that, if a church refuses me access due to my SD, I will kindly go elsewhere.

All right everyone, I hope and pray this article finds you all well. God bless you all!

By: Joel Allen