Question:

We have a lady who has been attending worship with us for over a month. She has since placed her membership with our congregation. This morning when she entered the building she had a little Chihuahua dog in her arms. She stated that it was her service dog and he did not have any teeth. We are aware that she has an autoimmune illness, but she has never brought the dog to church before. She sat in the very back and the dog was quiet and didn't cause any disturbances.

People were not happy with the situation, but no one said anything to her about bringing the dog to worship. We all believe that dogs are not and should not be allowed in the Lord's house. I would like to know your feelings on this issue. I checked and churches are not bound by any law to allow service dogs in worship.


Answer:

This is more a cultural issue. I've taught lessons where chickens and small pigs were roaming at the feet of the congregation. I doubt anyone would have trouble with a blind man's guide dog being present.

Unfortunately, people push the envelope of what is culturally acceptable. To claim a dog is a service dog really has no meaning, especially since she demonstrated that she doesn't need the dog with her all the time. You can politely ask her to bring proof that her dog is actually a service dog the next time she comes. The American government rules regarding service animals can be found at: http://www.ada.gov/archive/qasrvc.htm . It appears that in the U.S., from a strictly governmental view, unless it can be shown that the dog is disruptive in some way, the government expects you to be accommodating.