Animals at Mass

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Animals at Mass
Question from on 07-16-2007:
Last week when I went to Mass, I was shocked when the woman in front of me had a dog with her. I noticed it was wearing a vest saying "Puppy in training" and was going to be a service animal. It was sitting on a blanket chewing on rawhide bones and rolling under the pew. I asked the ushers about it and they told me that she is constantly bringing puppies in training to Mass and that this was a "special circumstance".

My question is, is this allowable or should I say something? And if I'm bound to say something, where do I start?? I understand that people with special needs have service animals at their disposal, but are they allowed in the sanctuary during Mass? Is this woman allowed to bring a dog in that isn't for her, but rather "in training"?

Thank you for your help!

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 07-16-2007:
There aren't any norms regarding having animals at Mass. Prudence and common sense need to dictate what is to be done.

If the dog is (or is training to be) a seeing eye dog or something similar, then I understand the need to have the animal with one during Mass. Otherwise, I don't see why one would bring pets to church.

I would say that this matter should be handled by the local pastor.

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