Danish Tourists Kicked Out of Zadar Cathedral Because of Assistance Dog

Lauren Simmonds

As Slobodna Dalmacija/Lada Burcul writes on the 14th of August, 2019, on Wednesday, Danish tourists were kicked out of the Cathedral of St. Anastasia in Zadar. Why? Because they came in with an assistance dog.

”They were thrown out of the church and nobody even thought for a second that the woman with the dog was disabled and the dog was her assistance dog. Disgusting, sad, and unacceptable. The Danish tourists to whom this happened called us and told us bitterly what happened to them in the middle of the day at the cathedral in Zadar,” says Mira Katalenić, president of the Association for Dog Training and Mobility, which is based in Zagreb.

As this association is a member of an international organisation, tourists from Denmark found their details in Zagreb and contacted them.

”What did you advise them?” Slobodna Dalmacija asked Katalenić.

”To contact the police. The church is a public space and they’re legally entitled, in the event that the dog is an assistance dog, to enter this sacred building. I asked my colleagues in the association, half jokingly, whether we should go to Zadar and educate the priests about it?” said Mira Katalenić, who then informed the public about everything.

”However, the Zadar police told us that the tourists from Denmark didn’t contact them on Wednesday to report that they had been kicked out of the cathedral. We contacted the cathedral’s pastor, who confirmed that the Danish tourists were kicked out of the Cathedral of St. Anastasia in Zadar,” she stated.

”A man and a woman with a huge black dog entered. Indeed, no one could have known that it was an assistance dog, it wasn’t apparent that either of them was a disabled person. In the church, we always have two guards, one who speaks English, and another who speaks as many as three world languages, and they should have contacted one of them to tell them that this was an assistance dog. They walked around the church, and when they were warned [about the dog], they reacted very abruptly,” the pastor of Zadar Cathedral claimed.

According to the Zadar Cathedral’s pastor, one of the called guards called the archbishop’s pastoral associate, Branimir Buturić, because of the situation was on the verge of becoming a more serious incident.

”He’s my secretary, he came to the church immediately, ordered everyone to leave and simply closed the cathedral for a short time. There was no other way,” claimed the pastor, who, he says he cannot understand why the Danish tourists didn’t immediately inform someone there that the dog was an assistance dog.

”This is an exceptional situation and no one would object [to the dog’s presence], they would have walked around the church with the dog and that’s it. However, instead of explaining, they attacked anyone who tried to reach out to them.

In the end, no one really knew what was going on. It is important to emphasise that on the door of the cathedral, there’s a large poster with drawings with warnings about entering the church: one cannot enter with ice cream, with a drink, improperly dressed, or with a dog… This is very noticeable and they should have clearly stated why they have dog. I mean, we also have a ramp for the disabled, everyone has the right to visit the cathedral,” concluded Pinčić.

This reasoning did not, however, satisfy the president of the Dog Training Association, Mira Katalenić, who told us that education in Zadar is obviously “miserable”, that this is the third case that people with assistance dogs have been kicked out of Zadar’s churches in the past eight years, and that caretakers should have approached the married Danish couple discreetly with the dog and ask whether or not the dog is an assitance dog. That way, as Katalenić concludes, this unfortunate incident would not have occurred in the first place.

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