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Are Dogs Allowed in Walmart?

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The world’s largest retailer by revenue, Walmart has over 10,000 stores in two dozen countries. Whether you are running in to pick up a prescription, shop for outdoor furniture or buy groceries, you may be wondering: are dogs allowed in Walmart?

Can you bring your dog to Walmart?

Are Dogs Allowed in Walmart?

Dogs are NOT allowed in Walmart stores (with one exception).

Walmart has a clear pet policy on its website:

“Walmart welcomes 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.”

Sign at door of Walmart showing that pet dogs are not allowed in store

Walmart–and any other grocery store in the US–does not allow dogs (other than service dogs) into the store due to health regulations.

This is the same reason why dogs are permitted only in outdoor patio restaurants, not inside restaurants themselves.

What if I need to go to Walmart while I’m out?

If you need to go to Walmart while you’re out with your dog, the best thing to do is run your dog back home then tend to your shopping.

Please do NOT ever leave your dog alone in the car. The temperature can soar to fatal levels even on what seem to be fairly temperate days. (And don’t forget that there’s always the risk of dognapping while you are in the store.)

You do have the option of both pickup and delivery from Walmart in many areas–as well as online ordering.

But I’ve seen dogs in Walmart…

OK, you say, you have seen dogs in Walmart. What’s the deal?

While there may be some stores that make the occasional exception, the policy clearly states that pet dogs–in other words, dogs that are not trained service dogs–are not allowed in Walmart stores.

But don’t forget: you cannot always tell which dogs are service dogs.

According to the American Disabilities Act (ADA):

Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Service dogs can include Diabetic Alert Dogs, Seizure Alert Dogs, Hearing Dogs and many more.

Service dogs are not required to wear any type of harness, vest or tag–so it’s not always apparent that a dog is working.

If your dog is not a trained service dog, do not attempt to misrepresent your dog as a service dog. Depending on where you live, misprepresenting your dog as a service dog can carry a fine of up to $1000.

Here in Texas, the law states: “The Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 437, Section 437.023 requires a food establishment to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animal into all areas of the facility where customers are normally permitted.”

However, by Texas law the store does have the right to ask two questions of the person with the service dog:

“If a person’s disability is not readily apparent, for purposes of admittance to a public facility with a service animal, a staff member or manager of the facility may inquire about:

(1) whether the service animal is required because the person has a disability

(2) what type of work or task the service animal is trained to perform.”

Can I bring an emotional support dog in Walmart?

Emotional support dogs don’t have the same rights as service dogs–but the ADA notes that different states may handle this different ways. Their site notes:

Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?

No.  These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person.  Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.  However, some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support animals into public places.  You may check with your State and local government agencies to find out about these laws.

There you have it: check with your state and local government to learn if your emotional support dog qualifies under the protections of a service dog.

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Paris Permenter
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