Last year I posted about how I was thinking of going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve but was unable to find a church where I could take Isaac. It wasn't that I found a bunch of churches that said no service dogs allowed, it's that I wanted until the last minute to call and then either no one answered the phone in the church office or the person that answered didn't know if they allowed service dogs or not and the person that would know was not available to ask. I called six different churches and then gave up.
I live in a pretty rural area and there are only so many Catholic churches within a reasonable driving distance. There is actually only one Catholic church in my entire county, and of course, not all Catholic churches have midnight mass and I really wanted to go to midnight mass, not an earlier service.
I don't want this post to be about religion, but I will say that I am not Catholic, I am not even Christian, but I have always thought it would be interesting to go to midnight mass on Christmas eve. I just wanted to see it. And I've heard the music is lovely. I do not support the Catholic church for many reasons and certainly would not donate any money to them. But I'd like to go to midnight mass one time.
So anyway. I decided to plan ahead this year. I started making phone calls today to find out where I might be able to attend midnight mass with my service dog.
And no, churches are not required by law to admit service dogs. They are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means they are permitted by law to discriminate against people with disabilities. Some churches welcome people with disabilities, including those with service dogs, but they are not required to by law. It is up to each church. If you want to read what the U.S. Department of Justice says about why that, you can read it here.
A Catholic acquaintance tells me that the American Council of Catholic Bishops has made some sort of statement that service dogs should be welcomed in all Catholic churches, but I don't have a link to that statement so I can't verify it. It's probably true, though. But probably not all Catholic church employees or volunteers are aware of it. So some would probably tell me I couldn't bring my service dog and maybe I'd have to produce the statement from the Council of Catholic Bishops and try to convince them they are wrong. And this is not a battle I want to fight since I'm not Catholic and do not want to attend church on any kind of regular basis.
So anyway. I decided to plan ahead this year and started making phone
calls to find out where I might be able to attend midnight mass.
I called the first church on my list, whose website stated they have midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The women that answered the phone did not know if I could bring my service dog or not and put me on hold. When she finally returned, she said I could, but she needed my name so that they could reserve a special seat for me. I asked why they needed to reserve a special seat and said I did not need a special seat. She said they had to reserve a special seat up front since I would have my service dog with me. I told her I was uncomfortable with that, that I did not need or want a special seat up front, and that if they would insist I sit in a special seat, that I would just check with another church. She said OK. Apparently it was just fine with her if I did not attend.
So I called the next church on my list. They do not actually have a midnight mass but one at 10 pm. Which Isaac would actually prefer, because he does not like staying up late. The woman that answered the phone said she was pretty sure it would be OK but asked me to hold on while she checked to make sure. She came back and said it was fine. She said she hoped she'd see me there.