My church rejected me because of my SD

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Pip's my name,- service is my- game!
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 6:19pm PST 
I know legally churches can say no to a SD, but I never expected they would.

Many of you have read my recent thread about finally getting my SD. I've been very excited to have her, so that I can be more able to get out and about.

I imagined that I would meet up with people ignorant of the law who would try to deny me access. I can handle that.

The rejection came from a most unexpected place. My church, where I was baptized, has said I cannot come if I bring my SD. Unfortunately the law states that churches are one of the few places that can legally deny me access. However, I never, ever imagined they would do that.

The priest used every excuse that the law refutes, saying people might have allergies, people might be afraid of dogs etc. If the church fell under the ADA, these reasons would be completely invalid because the law addresses them specifically and says they cannot be used as reasons to exclude a SD. Sadly the church can say no to me for any reason at all if they want to, and he still made all these excuses.

Then, later, he calls me. He say's he'll think about it, but then...he says can your dog be muzzled? I almost lost it. MUZZLED? Muzzles are for vicious dogs, biters. Not 2 year old professionally trained golden retriever service dog puppies who might lick you to death but would not bite a flea. He's never met my dog, and he wants to muzzle her to bring her to church. He wants to punish a dog who's never, ever done a bad thing, that he's never met. As if muzzling her for no reason wasn't absurd enough, one of her primary duties for me is retrieval. How the heck is she supposed to do her job if her mouth is held shut? With her opposable thumbs? Oh wait, she's a dog, and doesn't HAVE ANY! She uses her mouth to do her job, for pete's sake!

What rubs salt in the wound is that when I told my classmates (the other recipients who just graduated with their SDs too) three of them told me not only did their church welcome them, but the priest is going to bless the dog. They are getting blessings, I am getting rejected.

I'm really hurt.

To further complicate matters, there is no other Orthodox church in a reasonable driving distance. So to change churches means changing to a whole different branch of Christianity, which I don't really want to do. So it's not even a simple, "Fine, I'll go to a different church." I did call a church close to my home and they said, without question, we (Pip and I) would certainly be welcome. They don't even know me, and they'll welcome me. My church, not so much.

So like I said, of all the places I expected rejection, church wasn't one of them.
Isabelle the- Great

Nothing is- greater than an- Springer!
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 6:37pm PST 
Hugs and prayers going your way!
Kashmir- ♥ CGC

Boxer Beach Bum
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 6:37pm PST 
Im sorry this happened to you stay strong. hughug


Love me.
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 6:54pm PST 
I'm sorry you are going through all this!hug It is true that they have the right to refuse SDs (and I do believe they deserve that right as the gov is not supposed to tell them what to do)...though most churches I know of do allow them, or at least have an overflow room where they would be allowed to go in. To give your priest the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he knows of some other members who are afraid of dogs or something like that, and is trying to think of ways that would work for everyone involved. wink I know you found it offensive, but muzzles are not used just for vicious dogs; and if your pup only has to wear one during the time you are in the building would that really be that bad of a deal? How much retrieving would she be doing during the service? thinking

Edited by author Fri Aug 3, '12 7:02pm PST


The Boy Wonder
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 7:15pm PST 
First off I hate that this happened to you.. It is a horrible thing to have happen.

That said I have a suggestion, a few actually. First see if you can find some reading on service dogs that you can drop off to your priest to read. Second... See if you can talk to him, introduce him to Pippa on neutral ground, perhaps if he meets her that will calm many of his nerves.

My next suggestion is to see if once you can get him over on your side if he'd be willing to let you do a talk to the congregation. Sometimes education goes a long way towards soothing people... often people aren't trying to be difficult they just don't know. I can't promise any of this will help but showing what she can do for you, and talking about what service dogs do for others and the specialized training that they go through might be enough to get everyone over on your side.

I wouldn't give it up for a lost cause just yet. hug
Sita CGC- SD(mostly- retired)

When we seeing- the ponies?!
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 7:23pm PST 
I agree with Happy. I know some people were ify about Sita until they met her. Her natural charm won them all over!

I can't believe of all places that church would be the issue. But like Happy said, maybe it's just lack of education

Sending hugs hug

Sita & Tia

microscopic mutt
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 7:32pm PST 
I have no advice for you, just sympathy. hug

Work hard; Play- harder.
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 8:43pm PST 
Does your church have an organizational body or is it a part of a larger organization? If so, I'd check with them to see if they have a SD policy. Quite a few do and it is possible that your pastor is ignorant as to the organization's policy. I'd inquire at the state or national level without stating the current situation. I know that the Catholic Church and one of the Jewish organizations have policies (national type level) welcoming them. If the governing body has the policy, I'd get a copy and give it to the pastor. If he still said no, I'd have no issue with informing the organization; maybe he needs to be reminded of a couple of biblical teachings. thinking

Happy also gave you some excellent suggestions. Also, if you are going to provide info to your pastor, you may want to look up the policies for some of the other religious organizations and present it as well; show him that other religions have moved to embrace ALL of their parishioners/members.

Worst case scenario, which is probably the last thing you want to do, is find another church that does embrace everyone regardless of disability.

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Fri Aug 3, '12 8:52pm PST 
My stepfather reminded me of something that may also be of relevance. He said that you should also be able to speak before the congregation and bring your case before them and let them bring it to a vote. I suspect with a bit of education this might also be a way to make it work.

While I know there are mule headed people who just don't get it, there are also a lot of people who just don't understand service dogs and what they do.
SHADOW - RIP 14 June- 2014

Barked: Sat Aug 4, '12 12:35am PST 
I know in the Catholic Church you have the Priest who must LISTEN to his leader -- The Bishop who overseas his Parish. In most Orthodox Religions -- Greek -- They have someone above their Priest who overseas their Parish.

I would call them and ask them if there is a Service Dog Policy for a Parishioner to attend Mass.

When I traveled to Virgina I ran into a Priest who wasn't to keen on a dog being in the Church. Some of the Parishioners said to him that would you kick out the blind with a cane, someone in a wheelchair, etc.. The Pries said "no" .. Well, that wonderful dog is just like a white cane, wheelchair, walker, etc..

I use to always sit in the rear of my old Church.. But when I moved to my newer one 5 1/2 years ago I sat in the front area that's usually reserved for wheelchairs, walkers, etc.. It gave Shadow loads of floor space where no one would trip over him getting into the pew.

I would just bring in the ADA Business Brief and said even thou a Church is Private, more Ministers, Priests, etc.. are always welcoming anyone in their flock even they are normal or disabled..

Ailbe and Shadow Walker
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