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Photo by Milli on Unsplash
Photo by Milli on Unsplash
World News

'A dog-friendly venue is as welcoming as a piranha friendly swimming pool': Winchester Cathedral allowing dogs to enter causes controversy

by Lydia Davies

After a three-month trial period, Winchester Cathedral has decided to let dogs enter the church during visiting hours. 

However, the decision has sparked some controversy among locals. They cited concerns about the disruption, cleanliness, and appropriateness of having dogs in a place of worship. 

One user commented on the Hampshire Chronicle news page: "There is no need or benefit to having a dog in a place of worship, unless it is a help dog." 

Another commented: "Screaming babies, running toddlers, and school groups were there - why not dogs? I'll tell you why - unlike dogs, they don't bite people, 

"Last year, there were many thousands of dog attacks in the UK. A dog-friendly venue is as welcoming as a piranha-friendly swimming pool". 

A third cited a chapter from the New Testament, Matthew 7:6, which reads: "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” 

However, Samantha Chandler, who works at the Anglican Society for Welfare of Animals, recognises some of the concerns but is in support of the decision. 

She told Premier Christian News: "There's still plenty of opportunities if you are allergic or you are frightened of dogs, where you can get away from them. 

"Winchester Cathedral is a very big building". 

She also added how she thinks a rule of welcoming only 'well behaved' dogs are the key to success, saying: "Obviously dogs have a voice, like we all do. And sometimes they bark. I think Winchester are quite careful by saying only well-behaved dogs. 

"I think if you had a dog that was being a disruptive influence, staff at the cathedral would quite rightly, ask you to leave". 

In a statement on their website, Winchester Cathedral said: 

"A three-month trial to allow dogs accompanying paying visitors into the Cathedral began in late October 2023. Since then, 200 or so well-behaved dogs have come into the Cathedral during visiting hours (not during services of worship), and the dogs' owners have been delighted and grateful to have received such a warm welcome." 

They added that owners are asked to keep their pets on a short lead, not to leave them unattended and to be considerate of others, especially where space is more limited.  

Dogs are not currently permitted entry to evening events and services and are not allowed in the café. 

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