Church allegedly told blind man to leave because of his service dog
A blind South Carolina man claimed a church told him to leave on Sunday because he brought his service dog with him, KHBS reports.
Taylor Burch, a legally blind 29-year-old who cannot see from his right eye and has difficulty seeing from his left, often brings his dog Independence, or Indy, around with him. Last weekend, however, he said he was told to leave a service at the Lowcountry Community Church after someone noticed his canine companion.
"I've never been denied access and never in a million years would I think it'd be a church," Burch said.
Though the church does not have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and had a "No Animals" sign outside, Burch, understandably, couldn't see the notice. He said the overall experience left him humiliated.
"I felt like this guy was joking,' Burch said of the person who tried to remove him.
In a statement to the station, the church's pastor, Jeff Cranston, attempted to explain 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. "Finding no legal way to continue allowing service animals, while restricting untrained, unsafe animals, we reluctantly, but responsibly instituted a policy in April 2018 restricting access of all animals."
However, following Burch's negative experience, the church has decided to switch course and will start allowing service animals starting July 7, Cranston said.
For his part, Burch said he was grateful to learn that the church changed its mind.
"I appreciate [Lowcountry Community Church] lifting the ban on service dogs. I just hope other churches who have the same policy follow in your suit," he said.