A 29-year-old man in South Carolina was asked to leave a church service after trying to bring his guide dog with him.
The episode happened when Taylor Burch, who is legally blind, and his dog, Indy, visited the Lowcountry Community Church in South Carolina on Sunday. Burch cannot see from his right eye and has difficulty seeing from his left so he often brings his dog around with him.
At first, he was let in for the Sunday service but while searching for a seat, he was told to leave.
“I’ve never been denied access and never in a million years would I think it’s a church,” Burch told KHBS. He said he felt ‘humiliated’ and thought the man who asked him to leave was joking.
The Lowcountry Community Church has a ‘No Animals’ policy written outside the door but Burch did not see the notice.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, churches do not have to comply with ADA regulations, which were designed to protect disabled people from discrimination. In a statement, the church’s pastor, Jeff Cranston tried to clarify the policy:
“To avoid restricting access to anyone, we have sought legal counsel to find ways we could safely accommodate service animals while protecting the health of the thousands of people who utilize our venue weekly,” he said.
Burch’s posted his story on Facebook and it has received lots of shares and comments, which were mostly negative on the church’s action.
As such, the church has decided to lift the ban and allow service animals starting July 7, Cranston said.
Following the church’s decision, Burch said he was appreciated that the church changed its mind and hope other churches who have the same policy will act the same.