Walmart is cracking down on shoppers who abuse its service-animal policy

  • Walmart is posting signs in stores in order to clarify its policy on bringing animals inside.
  • The signs read: “Service animals welcome. No pets.”
  • Walmart told Business Insider that this isn’t a new policy, but that the signs are meant to remind shoppers of the rule.

Walmart is reining in shoppers who abuse the company’s service animal policy.
Florida Today reported that the retailer added signs to stores around the US that read: “Service animals welcome. No pets.”

The signs say that non-service animals aren’t permitted in grocery stores due to food safety concerns. The signage also explicitly stated the company’s definition of a service animal: “Service animals are trained to do work or perform tasks for persons with disabilities. Comfort or emotional support animals are not service animals.”

A Walmart spokesperson told Business Insider that the company operates under the Americans with Disabilities Act’s definition of a service animal. The ADA’s website holds that under the law, a service animal is “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.

The tasks performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.”

Read more: Popeyes is launching ‘Emotional Support Chicken’ for stressed travellers craving fried chicken

“The policy itself hasn’t changed – the signage at our stores are new to clarify what is allowed and not allowed in our stores,” the Walmart spokesperson said. “We welcome service animals in our stores and serve customers that rely on them as part of their daily lives.”

The spokesperson added that Walmart associates will usually determine whether an animal is a service animal by asking the owner. Service animals also typically wear distinctive vests and harnesses.

But even service animals can be booted from the store for bad behaviour. Back in 2017, Walmart responded to a tweet by saying, “If a service animal poses a threat to health or safety, Walmart can exclude the animal from a store at that time.”

Walmart isn’t the first company to crack down on its animal policy. United and Delta banned support animals from long flights. And the ADA doesn’t recognise comfort and emotional-support animals that have not been trained to “perform a specific job or task” as service animals.

Like the airlines, Walmart has faced scrutiny for its policy on permitting animals into its stores. For years, commenters have taken to social media to describe odd interactions with animals in the store:

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