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Are Dogs Allowed At AA Meetings? Are They Dog-Friendly? (2020 Policy)

If you’re an alcoholic working on getting sober, then attending AA meetings may be a part of your daily life. And it’s understandable that you’d want to take your dog with you to your AA meetings.

But can you take a dog to AA meetings? Yes, sometimes you can bring dogs into AA meetings and service dogs are always allowed. For pets, it just depends on the rules of the facility where the meeting is being held and if the meeting chair (leader) has any rules against it.

As you might suspect, the rules can vary from one meeting to another.

We did some research and talked with members of AA to find out what the experience is like for dog owners like you.

Are AA Meetings Dog Friendly?

Yes, most of the time AA meetings are dog friendly. Of course, service dogs are always allowed in AA meetings.

But sometimes people don’t know the laws about service animals and may just assume it’s a pet.

One AA attendee in central New York state reported the following altercation at a meeting:

I was confronted by a “member”, who had actually chaired the meeting. He asked me “Is your dog a “certified ” Service Dog?” He said “If you can’t provide certification, you are not welcome here and you have to find another group to attend!”

That same attendee took his dog to another meeting in a nearby town and reported the following experience:

 My home group has no problem with me bring my dog with me to meetings.

Another AA meeting attendee notes:

I love dogs and the meetings I go to allow them. I know that they ask that no one pet the dogs during meetings because I think some folks get irritated by the distraction.

As you can see, experienced vary when it comes to bringing dogs into AA meetings.

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What Is Alcoholics Anonymous Official Policy On Dogs?

Officially, the General Service Office (GSO) of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) focuses on allowing all service animals at AA meetings, as required by federal law in the United States.

Additionally, they encourage local meetings to come to a consensus on making meetings accessible to everyone.

In the Fall 2019 edition (Vol. 65, No. 3) of The Meeting Guide App newsletter from News and Notes from the General Service Office of A.A., there is an entire section dedicated to “Service Animals and A.A. Meetings” and it mentions the following from a California meeting:

Our meeting is open to the public, and we welcome trained service dogs […] ‘Comfort’ animals may be asked to leave.

So, the official policy says that service dogs are always allowed at AA meetings, and that each meeting can make its own decisions as to whether to allow pets in or not.

Does AA’s Dog Policy Vary Across Locations?

Yes, the policy and policy enforcement does vary from one meeting to the next.

These variations not only occur within the United States, but across the world in other countries.

For example, in Australia the dog policy relies on liability and if the location of the meeting allows animals. Here’s an excerpt of the AA Australia dog policy:

The provisions of the public liability insurance cover, conditions for hire of some meeting venues and other requirements may exclude animals on the premises, particularly dogs other than accredited assistance dogs.

As you can see, there seems to be no real consistency on the dog policy either in the United States or across the world.

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So, if you’re thinking about attending a new meeting, then it’s best to get information on the dog policy before you show up with your pup.

The Final Word

The best advice we can give people thinking about attending an AA meeting with their doggo is to avoid bringing non-service animals to meetings locations, unless you already now that dogs are allowed in.

Such individuals should bring verification or certification if they do have a service animal, and they would like to bring the service animal into an AA meeting.

Of course, some meeting leaders are more accommodating to pet owners, so your pup may be allowed at your local AA meeting.

We hope you’ve gained a full understanding of AAs rules and practices regarding dogs.

If you have any additional questions, please reach out to the company, or your local AA meeting leader, for more specific and detailed information.

image: Deposit Photos

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