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Does Goodwill Allow Dogs? 2023 Update

Jana Blagojevic

By Jana Blagojevic

Goodwill Store

Goodwill is a nonprofit chain store selling clothing, jewelry, art, books, toys, musical instruments, and much more. The store is loved by many Americans and provides an undeniably valuable service to the people. One of Goodwill’s most important policies is always maintaining the safety and comfort of its shoppers. This rule includes not being pet-friendly since some shoppers may feel unsafe browsing near dogs and other animals.

While this is the case, Goodwill has only one exception—service dogs. Service dogs are allowed by all businesses, nonprofit organizations, and local governments as long as they are under control by their handler.

To learn more about Goodwill’s no-dog policy and the exception to this rule, read on below.

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Is Goodwill Pet-Friendly?

If you are looking forward to visiting Goodwill soon but want to bring your dog into the store, you may need to rethink this decision. Almost all Goodwill stores have a clear policy forbidding dogs and other pets from entering their stores. This policy is meant to ensure the safety of all Goodwill shoppers and protect the merchandise and equipment. While some Goodwill stores may not follow this strict policy and allow dogs inside, this is not standard practice and is only an exception.

In general, all Goodwill stores have a strict no-pet policy. While your pet may be well-behaved and trained, there are technically no exceptions to this rule. There is one rule that overrides this strict policy, and it involves service dogs.

American Pit bull Terrier dog inside a shopping cart trolley
Image Credit: ravipat, Shutterstock

Does Goodwill Allow Service Dogs?

According to The Americans with Disabilities Act, all businesses, local governments, and nonprofit organizations open to the public must allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by service dogs.1 Many individuals with disabilities depend on service dogs to function in public, so refusing a service animal to enter a store can significantly impair their ability to continue with their daily routine. If a business, including Goodwill, refuses to allow a service animal to enter, it may be ground for discrimination charges.

One such occasion occurred when a woman with epilepsy was denied entry for her service dogs because of the lack of proper documents. After Goodwill was accused of disability discrimination, they changed their policy to be more sensitive and considerate.

Now, Goodwill allows service dogs and doesn’t require any legal documentation proving the dog’s service. While service dogs are permitted in Goodwill stores, the rules require the dog to be controlled by its handler at all times. Service animals mustn’t be let loose inside the store and need to be leashed or harnessed unless the person’s disability prevents this, or it prevents the animal from performing its duties effectively.

What Are Service Dogs?

A service dog is an animal that is specially trained to perform tasks and aid in the everyday life of a person with a disability. These dogs’ tasks are beneficial and significant for a person’s well-being and normal functioning in society. They can guide people with visual impairment, bring items for people with mobility issues, and signal certain sounds to people with hearing issues. These animals can even sense a seizure or an episode before it occurs, alerting their handler to act accordingly.

blind man with his service dog
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Once learning about Goodwill’s strict no-dog policy, you should ensure only to bring your pets into the store if they are service animals. Goodwill’s policy doesn’t allow companion animals into the store, but the Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that all service dogs can follow their handlers at all times.

Featured Image Credit: Goodwill Store (14860304114) (Image Credit: Mike Mozart, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)

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