It’s not the first time you’ve had to rush out to the Walmart store near you without Fido. This time, though, his whimpers make you feel so guilty, you’re thinking of reaching for his leash. But are dogs allowed in Walmart?
It depends. As a rule of thumb, Walmart generally doesn’t allow animals or pets into their stores.
There are exceptions, nonetheless. And until you – or your dog – meet these criteria, it’s an outright NO. And for good reason!
So, are dogs allowed in Walmart? Yes, but only if they are service dogs.
What Is Walmart’s Dog Policy?
Generally, Walmart frowns on shopping together with your pet(s). It matters little whether it’s a cat, dog, or harmless rabbit. All animals are barred. And you only have to hop over to Walmart’s official website for confirmation.
According to Walmart, they welcome “service animals as defined by the ADA in our stores, and we recognize the important role they play in many of our customers’ lives. We do not allow pets in our stores.”
More importantly, you’ll likely come across signs outside Walmart stores that read, “Non-service animals are not permitted in grocery stores under applicable food safety regulations. Service animals are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for persons with disabilities. Comfort or emotional support animals are not service animals. We apologize for any inconvenience.“
Why Does Walmart Forbid Pets From Entering Their Premises?
It’s important to understand that in premises like Walmart, where food is also sold, the presence of animals is likely to pose certain health and contamination risks.
Thus, the main reason why Walmart restricts animals from entering is because of hygiene and safety concerns. Walmart operates under the FDA’s Food Code. And to safeguard the interest of the general public, Walmart is mandated to disallow pets into their premises as this is unsanitary.
Animal poop, pee, or fur will potentially contaminate food and food-contact surfaces. Your dog might also end up licking and contaminating something that a potential buyer might later use.
Even worse, something may startle your dog. And he may bark or bite a child when you’re not watching.
So, while it makes sense to want to shop with your dog, the need to protect the interest of the wider public is crucial.
Are Dogs Allowed In Walmart?
Walmart makes it clear that they won’t entertain pets in their stores. It includes dogs, of course.
But, there’s an exception – if your dog is a service animal, then it’s perfectly fine to walk in with him
But, what are service animals? Service animals simply help people with a range of disabilities, from mental illness to muscular dystrophy.
Per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are those trained to perform certain tasks for persons with disabilities.
Tasks may include helping people with autism navigate social settings. It may also include alerting their owners to potentially deadly spikes in their blood sugar levels. The dogs may also be trained as guide or hearing dogs. Or trained to remind their owner with mental illness it’s time to take his/her prescribed medication.
Suffice it to say, the assistance a service animal may provide isn’t limited. And as the Act points out, there may be broader definitions of “assistance animal” which the Act doesn’t necessarily capture.
Are “Service Animals” Limited To Only Dogs?
Yes, according to the APA, only dogs may be regarded as service animals.
And the APA mandates that these special dogs must necessarily be allowed to accompany persons with disabilities into places that members of the general public are allowed.
It matters little whether the dog is as small as a Poodle or as big as a Great Dane. What matters is that the dog has been trained to assist his person in some role that would be otherwise difficult to perform alone.
Remember, also, that if your dog is a service animal, there’s no need to get him to wear a vest or special harness for easy identification. The ADA makes it clear that such identification isn’t necessary.
What’s more important is that your service dog must be leashed/tethered unless the device gets in the way of him work. You must then resort to using signals or your voice to maintain control of your service dog, in that case.
But, while any proof of identification isn’t necessary, we think you should wear your service dog a marked vest when entering places like Walmart. It makes access a whole lot simpler.
Can Walmart Inquire If Your Dog Is A Service Animal?
The ADA makes it clear that staff of organizations like Walmart cannot ask for any form of documentation for your service dog.
They also cannot request a demonstration of the dog’s task. Plus, they are not to solicit information from you about the nature of your disability.
Still, there are two pertinent questions staff are free to ask.
The first is whether your dog is a service animal needed because of a disability. The second is the specific task/role that the dog has been trained to perform.
It seems, therefore, that if you can answer these two questions satisfactorily, then there cannot be any bar to your access into Walmart with your service dog.
Are Emotional Support Dogs Allowed In Walmart?
Emotional support dogs are those whose company brings calm and comfort to their owners.
For example, someone suffering from depression may require the company of his/her dog to reduce stress and ease loneliness.
Unfortunately, emotional support dogs don’t fall under the umbrella of the definition of service dogs by the ADA.
Since these dogs aren’t trained specifically to perform a task necessary for the assistance of someone with a disability, they do not qualify as service dogs.
As a result, Walmart regards them as they would any ordinary dog and will not entertain them within their stores.
What About Service Animals-In-Training?
According to the ADA, service animals-in-training don’t qualify as service animals.
To do so, they must have been fully trained as service animals.
Can Walmart Remove Service Animals Under Any Circumstances?
The protection the ADA offers to persons with service animals is wide, to say the least.
Even where there is the danger of allergies, the ADA mandates that organizations should still give service animals access to their premises.
Moreover, where the establishment sells food, the law still requires them to permit the use of service animals. Regardless of whether or not local health codes suggest otherwise.
You’d therefore be forgiven for thinking that one cannot under any circumstance be asked to remove their service animal from the premises.
However, there are two occasions where the unthinkable could happen.
You may be asked to remove your special animal where;
- You fail to manage your dog after he goes out of control and
- Your service dog hasn’t been trained to pee/poop outdoors.
Clearly, if your dog acts dangerously, he may be a risk to other users of the place. And peeing/pooping indiscriminately around may not only be a nuisance, but it also increases the risk of contamination.
Should I Leave My Dog Outside Walmart?
If your dog isn’t a service dog, then it makes sense to leave your dog at home before making the trip to Walmart.
If you can’t leave your dog at home, then you might want to tie him near a pole before entering the shop.
But, that’s not advisable. Especially if you’re going to spend a lot of time shopping. It may also be too risky to leave your dog in the car while shopping.
So, if your dog isn’t a service animal, your options seem limited. Leaving her at home would be the best option.
So, are dogs allowed in Walmart? Yes, they are! But, not all dogs will be permitted into Walmart.
To qualify to enter Walmart, your dog must be a service animal. Otherwise, it’s almost pointless to make the trip with Fido.
So, it’s okay to feel guilty about leaving him behind. As a matter of necessity though. And for the greater benefit of the general public, you may have to. make do without him at Walmart.