Is it possible for a dog to be racist? That’s a question some found themselves asking after a priest in Tennessee claimed his pooch, which he says is racially biased, is the only reason he wouldn’t be able to let the church’s Black housekeeper come into his home.
According to a report from WHBQ in Memphis, LaShundra Allen says while she was being trained to replace the current housekeeper at the Catholic Church of the Incarnation, she was told she could not enter the home of the Rev. Jacek Kowal.
“I was just supposed to clean the church and I was supposed to go to the pastor’s house and clean as well,” Allen explained. “They were just like, ‘Well, I’m not really sure how to say this,’ kind of like in a joking way, ‘But Father Jacek doesn’t want Black people cleaning the house because his dog is racist.’”
Although Allen has never met the priest, his secretary made it a point to inform her, “I’m sorry, we are not trying to be rude, but the dog doesn’t like Black people.”
In response to the bizarre directive, a letter was sent to the diocese, explaining, “Father Jacek knew that an African American woman was about to clean his home. He made no effort to come meet Ms. Allen. He made no effort to correct any statement about his dog being a ‘racist.’
“Two church office employees then reiterated that Father Jacek ‘did not want (Ms. Allen) there’ and that they needed to leave. Both Ms. Allen and Ms. Weaver were shocked, humiliated, and felt severely disrespected by this treatment and the statements,” the correspondence continued.
The letter was confirmed to the Memphis Commercial Appeal by Allen’s attorney Maureen Holland.
Kowal responded to the paper with a letter of his own:
“As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I wholeheartedly believe all forms of discrimination based upon race or ethnicity are sinful and wrong,” Kowal wrote. “As a pastor, I have ministered to, employed and worked with numerous African Americans. Their claim that I didn’t want an African American to clean my rectory is simply not true.”
In the wake of backlash the priest seemingly backtracked from the stance of his staff stating, “I wholeheartedly believe all forms of discrimination… are sinful and wrong,” but then felt compelled to add that his dog, a German Shepherd, once did have a “bad experience with a stranger who happened to be African American.”
“Since that time, Ceaser (the dog) has been aggressive with strangers until he gets to know them,” Kowal wrote. “And this is especially true for strangers that happen to be African American.”