Florida church holds ‘dog-friendly’ services

A Florida church is drawing attention for a weekly service welcoming some unusual parishioners — dogs.

Father Albert Cutie, rector at St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Plantation, said the facility has been holding “dog-friendly” 6 p.m. Saturday services for about 10 years.

“Can you really pray and leave a loved one behind?” Cutie said.

The canine congregants are remarkably well behaved while sitting in the pews with their owners.

“We sometimes have 10 to 12 dogs at a time,” Cutie said. “You never really hear them much — unless they encounter each other after Communion and then they begin to bark at each other. But everybody expects that.”

Cutie said the services are particularly attractive to people who live alone with their pets.

“What I love about this service — and I think that’s the reason that we have it — is that many of our people do live alone,” Cutie said. “They are elderly, they’ve lost their spouse or they’ve lived alone for a long time. And their dog really does become their companion in every way and their closest family member.”

He said other types of pets are welcomed into the church once a year for a Blessing of the Animals service.

“Why wouldn’t they be welcome in God’s house?” he said. “They’re God’s creatures.”