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Canine churchgoers: Dogs attend services at Westchester's Covenant Presbyterian Church

February 2, 2010 |  4:08 pm

Recently, a local church made news when it began allowing an unusual breed of worshiper -- namely, dogs -- to attend services. Our colleague Jeff Gottlieb recently attended a dog-friendly church service and wrote about the experience for The Times' Out There series; here's an excerpt:

Dog church As the Presbyterian service was about to start, one of the congregants was being disruptive, making a spectacle of himself once again on a Sunday. But that's what other members of the Westchester church have come to expect from Mr. Booby.

At Covenant Presbyterian Church in Westchester, dogs like Mr. Booby are welcome congregants at the Sunday night services, where howling and sudden bouts of scratching may interrupt prayers, and the collection plate holds treats for poodles and golden retrievers alike. And the Rev. Tom Eggebeen said he fully understands if some of the congregants need to step outside now and again.

The idea behind the service, Eggebeen said, was to make it more comfortable for people to attend the church, which has 120 members, not counting up to a dozen dogs that generally attend services. Cats and other animals are not permitted, perhaps out of a belief that of God's many creatures, dogs probably need more ministering.

"The heart of the whole thing has been to provide a worship service for the entire family, including the four-footed friends. . . . Their pets are very, very important to them and virtually comprise a member of family," he said. "I wouldn't be in the pulpit on Sunday mornings and say, 'Leave your children home.' "


Photo: Parishioner Donna Miller is baptized with her dog Kimmy during service on Jan. 10. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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