church meetinghouse
A meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company

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By Sydney Walker, Church News

A recent notice from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to general and local leaders provided clarity on the policy for service and other domestic animals in Church facilities.

“Bishops and stake presidents may determine whether to allow individuals with disabilities to use trained service dogs in meetinghouses,” the September 10 notice stated. “Other types of animals, including emotional support animals (comfort pets), are generally not permitted in meetinghouses or at Church-sponsored events, except as specifically required by law.”

An emotional support animal or comfort pet is defined as one “specifically chosen as a companion to an individual with a psychological or emotional disability,” the notice stated. A service dog is “a trained animal that performs tasks directly related to the disability of the owner.”

In the United States in general, the Church is under no legal obligation to admit service dogs or emotional support animals to houses of worship, according to the notice. Bishops and stake presidents are encouraged to make local decisions, taking into account the needs of individuals with disabilities and others in the congregation.

Service dogs and emotional support animals are not allowed in temples. Those with special needs are encouraged to attend the temple with family members or friends who can assist them, or ask for help from temple workers.

Owners of permitted service animals on Church property are responsible for any damage to people or property caused by their animals. Service animals must be attended and restrained at all times.

For more information on the Church’s policy regarding service animals, please visit, select “Policies and Guidelines,” and click “Service Animals” in the dropdown menu under “FAQ.”

Copyright 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company