The decision came after an engaged couple planned to have their dogs carry their wedding rings during the ceremony, which was to take place in the town hall of Pontirolo Nuovo in northern Italy.
“I would have been willing to accept the dogs in the hall, on a leash and muzzled,” Gigliola Breviario, the town's mayor, told local newspaper Eco di Bergamo.
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But the request for the canines – two Bullmastiffs aged three and four – to take on a role in the ceremony was a step too far. Breviario, who has a dog of her own, told Ansa she understood that pets were important, but thought it was “over the top” for them to carry the couple's rings.
The couple will reportedly now hold their ceremony in another, dog-friendly town.
Italy is a nation of dog-lovers, with 92 percent of pet owners considering them part of the family, and one in four letting their pups share their bed and even get under the covers, according to one survey.
But their role in ceremonies from weddings to weekly church services has been a more controversial topic.
In February, when a priest in Genzano on the outskirts of Rome asked a member of the congregation to take her dog outside the church, animal rights activists campaigners protested. Around a dozen campaigners – and their dogs – interrupted Sunday Mass at the church the following weekend, carrying banners calling for dogs to be allowed in church.
Police broke up the protest and those involved were warned they could be charged under Italian criminal law which forbids disturbing religious worship, with a penalty of up to two years' jail time.
Italian law does in some case call for pets to be treated as members of the family, however. In November 2016, a court ruled that dogs should be treated like children rather than property in divorce cases, with provisions made for shared custody and maintenance payments.
Photo: Francesco de Tito