Is your dog a beloved family member who goes everywhere with you? This furry friend is well behaved and good company, but where can he accompany you?
If you’re a member of Sam’s Club, you might wonder if you can take your dog inside the store? No, Sam’s Club doesn’t allow dogs in the store, unless it’s a service dog.
Every store chain in America has its own policy regarding dogs. These can be very different from one another, so it’s easy to get confused. Sam’s Club current official policy states that:
Service animals play an important role to help ensure the independence of people with various disabilities. Therefore, it is our policy to welcome into our club any animal that is individually trained to assist a person with a disability.
So Does Sam’s Club Allow Dogs?
The chain’s policy states that service animals are dogs (and, interestingly enough, miniature horses) that have been specifically trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities.
However, companion animals are not service animals. Service animals aren’t pets.
If your dog is a pet and not a service animal, he is not allowed in Sam’s Club per store policy.
Do You Need to Provide Documentation For Your Service Animal?
If your dog is a service animal, he doesn’t need to be documented in any way. This includes:
- pre-registration before entering the store
- presenting licensing papers to an employee
- proving the animal’s certification with any agency
- wearing a harness or sign that he is a service animal
However, it may be more practical and convenient for you to have your service animal wear a harness. This will clearly indicate his status to store employees and other shoppers.
Do Some Locations Have a More Open Dog Policy?
The chain’s official position is that service dogs are allowed in, while dogs that are pets may not enter the store.
Some store managers may enforce this more strictly than others. Certain employees may see your dog and not ask you to take it outside.
However, you cannot count on this as these people are breaking company policy.
Does This Policy Vary Depending on the Dog?
No. It applies to all dogs regardless of their:
- whether leashed or not
- whether muzzled or not
- whether you carry the dog, push it in the grocery cart, etc.
Why Aren’t Pet Dogs Allowed in Sam’s Club?
This store’s policy is likely due to a variety of reasons. These include:
- violating health codes regarding animals in the same location as where food is sold or served
- the possibility of complaints from other Sam’s Club shoppers
- pet dander triggering potentially serious allergies in employees and shoppers
- the possibility that the dog might create a mess on the floor
- dogs might introduce fleas or ticks into the store
- some dogs are unpredictable or not well trained
- dogs might fight with one another in the store
- a dog might slip its leash, knock over displays, and break items
Why Are Service Dogs Allowed in Sam’s Club, Then?
Service dogs are expected to have a very even temperament. They also receive specialized training in supporting a person with disability.
Many have been trained not to relieve themselves upon floors. These dogs tend to remain calm and obedient even in stressful situations.
A pet dog may startle or lash out if another animal lunges at it. A service dog is likely to remain well behaved.
More importantly, service dogs offer vital support to a shopper with a disability. They can perform many tasks for the shopper, such as:
- retrieving objects that a person with blindness has dropped
- guiding a person with low vision safely around obstacles and down aisles
- alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing to issues like warning sirens
- carrying items, opening doors, and doing other tasks for people with limited use of their hands
- alerting people to the onset of seizure or diabetic complications
- helping calm people with PTSD, depression, or traumatic brain injury
- physically supporting people with uncertain balance
- warning a person with severe allergies if that allergen is in the area
- interrupting the impulsive behaviors of people with certain psychological and neurological disabilities
All of these services allow the person with disabilities to perform vital tasks and maintain their independence. It can also protect the store from potential liability, for instance in the case of dogs trained to warn about allergy triggers.
Finally, service animals fall under civil rights law. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities have the right to be accompanied by their service animals.
Violating this policy would bring severe consequences down on the store.
Can You Take an Emotional Support Animal Into Sam’s Club?
This may seem like a grey area, given that emotional support animals have some overlap with the duties of a service animal. However, the official store policy is that emotional support animals are not allowed into Sam’s Club.
So what’s the difference?
A service animal was carefully chosen and trained for many months to assist a person with a disability. Emotional support animals have no rigorous selection and training process.
Therefore, an emotional support dog falls under the category of a pet.
Hopefully, this article has cleared up this question. However, as we just said, there can be a grey area between what’s considered a service dog versus a pet dog.
If you’re still uncertain, you can contact a Sam’s Club representative. They’ll be able to discuss any fine points of Sam’s Club dog policy with you.