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Does Sam’s Club Allow Dogs? 2023 Store Policy and Advice

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

cute curly dog waiting outside of store pet parking

Many dog owners like to share their shopping experiences with their canine companions. This is likely one reason that stores have been adjusting their policies to welcome well-behaved dogs. However, not all stores are pet friendly. For example, Sam’s Club does not welcome all dogs. They do, however, welcome service dogs (and miniature service horses too!). Read on to learn more.

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The Sam’s Club Dog Policy

Service animals help people with disabilities maintain their independence, so these animals are allowed inside Sam’s Club stores. However, companion animals are not. The company maintains that a service animal is one that has been specifically trained to perform some type of task or a variety of tasks for their disabled companions.

These include:
  • Guiding blind individuals throughout the store
  • Alerting companions with vision disabilities of sounds and the presence of others
  • Picking up and carrying items to be purchased from the store
  • Pulling carts or wheelchairs
  • Alerting companions of oncoming seizures and providing protection during seizures when necessary
  • Assisting companions with their balance and stability

Owners of service animals that visit Sam’s Club do not have to register with the company or submit any paperwork that proves their animal’s training or status. A service dog can be professionally trained or trained by an individual owner without certification. Therefore, it seems that the company works on the honor system when it comes to animals entering its stores.

chocolate labrador retriever service dog lying on the floor
Image Credit: Shine Caramia, Shutterstock

Why Emotional-Support Dogs Are Not Officially Allowed at Sam’s Club

As far as the ADA is concerned, emotional-support dogs are not the same as service animals. They are not trained to do specific actions for their companions, and they are not tasked to aid anyone with disabilities. That said, they can help alleviate anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

Under the law, emotional-support dogs don’t have access to all public spaces like trained service dogs do. In fact, as of 2021, airlines are no longer required to cater to customers with emotional-support dogs. They are simply considered companion animals, like pets, which means they are not officially welcome at Sam’s Club.

Why Companion Animals Are Not Officially Allowed at Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club has not made it clear why they do not welcome companion dogs in its stores, but it’s likely due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Health code violations
  • Customer complaints
  • Bathroom accidents
  • Possible fights and/or attacks
  • Flea infestation

It does not matter why the company doesn’t allow pet dogs in its stores. Since they are legally allowed to refuse entry to dogs unless they are service animals, they can do so without offering a reason to the public. If you’d like to bring your pet dog with you to Sam’s Club, you’ll have to submit a request in writing so it is on record.

dog leashed at designated dog parking area of shopping mall
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

How Does Sam’s Club Verify That Only Service Animals Enter Its Stores?

Sam’s Club recognizes that service animals may not always wear identifying gear. It also does not require any paperwork or registration for service animals that accompany customers into its stores. So, how does a store verify that a dog coming in is actually a service animal? The short answer is that it doesn’t. The company seems to rely on the customers to be honorable and do the right thing.

Not all dogs that enter Sam’s Club are service animals. Some people sneak in their pet dogs and pretend that they are service animals. If they are not caught and their dogs do not cause any problems, they will likely go about their business and even visit again with their dogs. However, those who are caught may be asked to leave the store and might not be allowed back to shop in the future, even without a dog. So, it’s not worth taking the risk, and we highly advise against violating Sam’s Club pet policies.

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In Conclusion

Sam’s Club does not allow pets to shop with their human companions inside its stores. Pets are allowed in some parking lots, depending on the shopping center’s policies, so you may be able to take your dog on a walk before or after you shop at the store. If you have a service dog, you are welcome to bring them along while you shop at any Sam’s Club store throughout the United States.

See Also:

Featured Image credit: aerogondo2, Shutterstock

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