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Mother Misses Son’s Wedding Because Service Dog Wasn’t Allowed In Church

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A mother is heartbroken that she had to miss her son’s wedding because the church he as married in did not allow her service dog to accompany her. Mary Douglas has had her service dog Stella for almost two years. Stella helps calm her when she has post-traumatic stress triggers, and goes everywhere Mary goes.

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Except for the church where Mary’s son was married recently. The Word of Life Church in Quincy, Michigan said that they’ve had a policy that prohibited animals from being in the sanctuary for a while, and because they are a non-profit religious organization, they do not have to allow service dogs as federal law under the Americans With Disabilities Act stipulates. Robert Montgomery is the pastor of the church and he says that the issue was more between family than with the church itself.

Pastor Montgomery says that he and the church gave three different options for the dog, and several months before the wedding. Douglas said that she feared relapse if she went to the area without Stella, while Montgomery says that none of the options they offered to try and accommodate were accepted and they felt they were in a difficult spot. Montgomery says that they do their best to work with families, but fear of animals and/or allergies to animals is the basis for their policy.

Douglas says that because the wedding was a public event, and not a church event, her rights to have Stella with her should have been respected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and as such, she’s filed a civil rights complaint with the state of Michigan.

Related: High School Student’s Service Dog Inspires Legislation Against Discrimination

Douglas says that missing her son’s wedding has caused her emotional stress that thankfully she has Stella to help calm, but she is heartbroken that she missed her son’s wedding because Stella wasn’t allowed to be with her. She says that invisible illnesses don’t make them any less debilitating, and she feels discriminated against for needing Stella. She hopes to bring awareness to those with invisible illnesses like PTSD.


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