Service animals—such as guide dogs for the blind—perform vital tasks for people with disabilities. Consider drafting a policy that maintains safety while welcoming these helpers. Following a written policy can help ensure that the ministry responds lawfully and consistently when someone asks to bring a service animal to church.
For example, a written policy might address:
Most ministries are exempt from complying with the ADA, but state and local laws still may apply. A local attorney can help ensure that the ministry’s policy complies with all applicable laws.
Ministry personnel must understand and be considerate of the rights of others. For example, when it is not obvious what service an animal provides, the ADA allows personnel to ask only two questions of the animal’s owner:
Under the ADA, personnel cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require training documentation for the animal, or ask that the animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. It’s a good idea to address this—and general service animal etiquette—with greeters, ushers, and others who interact with attendees.
For more information on how the ADA addresses service animals, see the ADA’s revised requirements from 2011.
*Important information: Brotherhood Mutual is pleased to provide Legal Assist as a complimentary resource. The services we offer through Legal Assist are intended to provide general legal information to our current and prospective policyholders.
The information we provide is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. Accordingly, no attorney/client relationship is created through this process, and no legal advice will be provided. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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