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.
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."
"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 behavior. 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 recognize 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:
Someone tell me how a snake can be a service animal???? And why you would bring it to Walmart!!- Mandelyn Brook Welch (@swankywelch) July 17, 2014
Here's an idea: unless your dog is a service animal that you need to bring with you, DON'T BRING IT INTO WALMART.- Isaac Holland (@DrazGames) August 28, 2018
Your 12 week old puppy with his "Caution Service Animal" vest that is defecating on the floor and chewing on his leash is not a service animal...please stop bringing it into Walmart before someone slips on the urine and poop that's dribbling everywhere in the cracker aisle...- Who is Justice Beaver? (@Saber_Glo) January 27, 2018
From my wife:- -= Brian Ogrisek =- (@broggyr) July 30, 2016
Had to leave walmart. Lady walking arnd w/ live snake arnd neck. Employees stopped her, she said it was a service animal. #wtf
The awkward moment when you see someone bring their parrot in Walmart and claim it's a service animal... #alrightythen- Kristin Walker (@Walker1683) April 24, 2016