You love your dog and you want to take them to Costco with you. But does Costco allow dogs?
Ask no more! Here you will find everything you need to know about Costco’s dog policy.
Read on to find out:
- Whether Costco allows puppies, pet dogs, and service dogs.
- If the dog policy between Costco US, UK, Canada, and Australia is different.
- What the penalties across different states are if someone abuses the dog policy at Costco.
- Valuable tips before heading to Costco with your dog.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
- Are dogs allowed in Costco?
- Are small dogs allowed in Costco?
- Are service dogs allowed in Costco ?
- A look at Costco’s beginning
- From homes to public places
- Costco dog policy
- Why Costco does not allow pets
- Confusion with emotional support or therapy animals
- How to spot a fake service dog
- Abuse of the service animal policy
- ‘No animals allowed’
- Costco incidents involving service animals
- Tips when going to Costco
Are dogs allowed in Costco?
Costco does not allow dogs in their warehouses. This is in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The store, however, welcomes all service animals. Service animals assist individuals with disabilities. Costco will provide a customer using a service animal access to its warehouses.
Are small dogs allowed in Costco?
Costco allows small dogs in their warehouses only if they are service dogs. Sometimes it’s not obvious what task a service dog performs. In which case a Costco employee may ask the pet owner two questions. First, if it’s a service animal. Second, what task it is trained to perform.
Are service dogs allowed in Costco ?
Costco allows service dogs only across its warehouses. Service dogs undergo special training for a task to assist a person with a disability. It could be picking up items for a wheelchair-bound owner. Or alerting an owner of an oncoming seizure. Thus, a service dog is very important.
A look at Costco’s beginning
Costco is a corporation operating a membership-only warehouse or wholesale clubs. They are popular for offering the best prices for quality products.
Today they operate in 11 countries. And as of 2019, they had 98.5 million members.
Costco’s beginnings can be traced back to San Diego in 1976. Sol Price and son Robert opened the Price Club warehouse.
They were operating in a converted airplane hangar.
On the other hand, the first Costco warehouse opened in Seattle in 1983. Its founders were Jim Sinegal and Jeff Brotman.
In 1993, Price Club and Costco merged, taking the name PriceCostco.
This was after Price turned down Sam Walton and Walmart’s offer to merge Price Club with Sam’s Club.
A year later, Sol and Robert Price left PriceCostco. In 1997, the company changed its name to Costco Wholesale Corporation. All of the Price Club stores were renamed to Costco.
At first, they were only catering to small businesses. However, they found success in extending service to non-business members.
This catapulted Costco on its road to becoming a multibillion-dollar retailer.
From homes to public places
Long ago, Rover was usually left at home whenever his owners left the house. They were usually expected to guard the house while no one was home.
Besides, dogs were not welcome in establishments.
But times have changed. So have the roles of dogs.
These days they are like children. Where their owners are, there you’ll find them.
Even in giant stores like Costco.
Business establishments became more welcoming of pets as time went by. So it’s not new to see pet owners bringing their pooches for some retail therapy.
Besides, the pet industry is a very lucrative avenue. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), $75.38 billion will be spent on pets in 2020.
And that’s in the United States alone.
Costco dog policy
Costco complies with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). They welcome service animals into their warehouses.
Thus, people using service animals are given access to Costco’s warehouses.
Granted that the service animal is under the control of the owner. The service animal must also be housebroken and vaccinated according to state laws.
Like other businesses, Costco allows service dogs. The company recognizes that these dogs serve a very important purpose. Their job can save their owner’s life.
Just like how this service dog jumped between a minibus and his owner:
However, Costco has a right to ensure that a dog is a service animal. Especially when it is not obvious what a service animal provides.
But only 2 questions may be asked of the pet owner:
- Is your dog a service animal?
- What task is your dog trained to perform?
Beyond these questions, Costco employees should NOT ask:
- About the person’s disability.
- That the dog performs the task.
- To see medical documentation.
- Ask for ID or documentation for the service dog.
So when a customer sees a service dog in the store, it means:
- The store does not break health and safety laws.
- The service animal is trained to perform a task for the owner.
- The acceptance of service dogs in the store complies with ADA.
Note: There are cases when Costco can turn away or have a service animal removed. First, if the service animal misbehaves and bothers other shoppers. Second, if the owner cannot control the misbehaving service animal.
You might also like: Are Dogs Allowed In Menards? & Is The Policy Dog Friendly?
Why Costco does not allow pets
Oftentimes, a company passes down its policies but stores differ in implementation.
When it comes to dog policies, the implementation falls on the store manager’s discretion.
So a store in one location may be welcoming of all pets. But another store may altogether ban pets with the exception of service dogs.
Several customers have different experiences when shopping at Costco.
Some attest to seeing pets in carts while their owners shop. And they think this is one of the reasons why pets shouldn’t be in stores.
You might have seen the ‘no dogs in cart’ sign outside the store
And for good reason.
Food codes prohibit putting dogs, whether pets or service dogs, in shopping carts. It’s unsanitary.
In many stores, the shopping cart where dogs are placed is also used for groceries.
Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t care.
While Costco recognizes that pets are part of a family, there’s health and safety to think about.
Particularly, there are people who have allergies to dog hair. Some people are afraid of dogs.
In addition, bringing an untrained dog to Costco is not a good idea. They could defecate or urinate on floors. Or they could display annoying behaviors such as barking or jumping.
These are what Costco wants to avoid.
Are there any differences between Costco US, UK, Canada or Australia?
There are no differences when it comes to dog policy between Costco US, UK, Canada or Australia. The stores do not allow animals except service animals.
Confusion with emotional support or therapy animals
ADA has made it clear its stand on emotional support animals (ESA) or therapy animals.
These are not service animals.
A service animal’s task must be directly related to the person’s disability. For instance, a seeing-eye dog helps a blind owner to cross streets. Or go where the owner has to go.
ESAs do not fit the definition of a service dog. That’s even if ESAs are used as part of medical treatment.
Here are some of what ESAs do:
- Relieve loneliness.
- Provide companionship.
- Help with depression and phobias.
- Comfort owners with their presence.
In addition, ESAs do not undergo special training to assist people with disabilities.
How to spot a fake service dog
You’ve probably been at Costco and seen dogs with their owners.
Did you ever wonder whether dogs are service animals?
There are ways you can tell if a dog is not a service dog:
- Stealing food.
- Being aggressive.
- Sniffing everything.
- Jumping at people.
- Pulling on the leash.
- Barking at people or whining.
- Being carried or riding a shopping cart.
- Seeking attention from other customers.
- Defecating or urinating on the floor or on products.
Abuse of the service animal policy
Did you know that many pet owners pass off their pets as service dogs?
That’s just so they could bring their pets to stores such as Costco.
And did you know that there are penalties when caught doing this?
Some pet owners overstep their boundaries. That is, by pretending their pet is a service animal.
And perhaps buy a service dog vest and get fake certifications for their dog.
Costco employees encountered many pet owners with their ‘service dogs’ in the stores. They knew it wasn’t a real service animal.
How? It was either a parrot, a snake, or another animal. ADA is clear that only dogs and miniature horses (seriously) can be service animals.
What’s more. These supposed service animals are too young to be.
For example, an owner claimed a 12-week-old puppy was a service dog. Training a service dog can take months.
And some were obviously not trained yet because they defecate or urinate on the floor.
How did these pet owners get away with it?
One reason was because some establishments wouldn’t dare challenge a pet.
Many stores are afraid of lawsuits. But if they do not have a clear stand on the dog policy, leniency occurs.
Employees simply let pet owners and their doors through the door.
Not only that. It’s a hassle and embarrassing to ask each pet owner if their dog is a service animal.
So if the owner says that their dog is a service animal, employees let them be.
In many places in the US, it’s a crime to pretend that a pet is a service animal.
Thankfully, there are laws to combat this problem. The penalties should serve to deter anyone from passing their pets off as a service dog.
The penalties depend on each state. To date, there are more than 20 states that have laws against owners of fake service dogs.
Here’s a peak at penalties by some states, just to show you what offenders can expect if caught:
|California||Fine – Not exceeding $1000;Imprisonment – Not exceeding 6 months|
|Florida||30 hours of community service|
|Iowa||Fine – $65 – $625Imprisonment – Not exceeding 30 days|
|Maine||Fine – Not exceeding $1000|
|Nevada||Fine – Not exceeding $500|
Service dogs undergo training, whether by the owner or professionally. This is so they can provide assistance to a disabled person on a daily basis.
What happens when pet owners pass off their pets as service dogs? What if they get fake certifications and buy service animal vests?
It puts the real service dog team into jeopardy.
Remember that one action can impact the people around you. For instance, a pet owner says her dog is a service dog and brings it to Costco.
At the store, there is a real service dog team. If the untrained pet is aggressive toward the service dog, the service dog’s team’s safety is compromised.
What’s worse is that this untrained pet could attack the service dog
The pet owner also inconveniences a lot of people. Others have to put up with a dog’s unacceptable behavior because the owner passed it as a service dog.
Here’s another way it negatively impacts service dog teams.
It tarnishes the reputation of the real ones. How? If the fake service dog shows undesirable behaviors in public places.
Because now people think that service dogs are just a nuisance. And they are only used for their owner’s personal benefit.
‘No animals allowed’
In 2018, shoppers at Costco noticed something new.
Near the entrance was a sign reading ‘No animals allowed except service animals.’
Nothing has changed in Costco’s dog policy. Service animals were still the only animals they allowed in the store.
However, the sign was to remind people who keep bringing non-service dogs into the store.
In addition, it reminded people that Costco doesn’t allow placing animals in the shopping cart. Not even service dogs.
You might also want to know: Are Dogs Allowed In Walmart? (Newest Walmart Dog Policy)
Costco incidents involving service animals
#1: Rebecca Dilorenzo vs Costco Wholesale Corporation
In April 2004, Rebecca brought her dog, a pug named Dilo, to Costco’s Bellingham warehouse.
She was using Dilo as a service dog with support from her psychologist. Rebecca was suffering from ailments after serving in the armed forces.
At the entrance, Rebecca told the employee that Dilo was being trained as a service animal. The dog wasn’t wearing a vest or harness to indicate that he was a service animal.
The second visit was in July 2004. This time, Dilo was wearing a vest with a ‘service dog in training’ patch.
A Costco employee remembered that the vest looked ‘homemade.’
However, Rebecca, her husband and Dilo entered the store with no problems. But while in the meat section, Rebecca began carrying the dog in her arms.
She claimed she wanted to avoid injuring the dog from shopping carts.
Rebecca was approached by Adele Wolcott, a store manager.
Wolcott asked her 2 questions:
- On whose behalf the dog was acting as a service animal.
- What task it performed.
Rebecca said the dog was her service animal that alerts her for spells
They were about to exit the warehouse when they were approached by Wolcott again. This time, with another manager, Ken Burnham.
Wolcott said she believed that the dog belongs to Rebecca’s husband. The husband had brought Dilo on a previous visit to the store.
Wolcott also described that the dog’s vest was not ‘regulation.’
In addition, Wolcott objected to Rebecca’s carrying of Dilo while shopping.
Rebecca believed that the interaction was loud and embarrassing, not to mention degrading.
As a result, Rebecca claimed for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
After considering the circumstances, the court dismissed Rebecca’s claim.
The court found Costco employee’s questioning reasonable. Costco also determined that Dilo was an emotional support dog. ESAs are not allowed in their store following ADA’s definition.
The court agreed with Costco’s decision. It found that the questioning was not, in any way, a disability harassment.
#2: Susan Grill vs Costco Wholesale Corporation
Costco was in hot water for refusing entry to an owner and her service dog.
Susan and Micaela Grill alleged that Costco turned away Susan and her service dog. According to the lawsuit, this had happened several times over the past 3 years.
Susan suffered from seizures. She had the service dog to alert her of an oncoming seizure.
Susan alleged that employees asked her about her use of a service dog. In some instances, they even asked her to remove her dog from the premises.
Costco’s CEO, Jim Sinegal, says that the company doesn’t allow animals in their warehouses. They will only allow identifiable service animals.
#3: Mytchell Low vs Costco Wholesale Corporation
Costco lost to a discrimination case filed by the complainant, Mytchell Low. Low alleged that Costco violated Chapter 272, section 98A.
Section 98A states:
‘…physically handicapped person accompanied by a dog guide, shall be entitled to any and all accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges…’
Costco submitted a petition for review. It alleged that Low did not demonstrate that his dog, Ozzie, was a service animal.
Low argued this wasn’t true.
He had told the manager that Ozzie alerts him when he’s about to have a panic attack. He also produced an ID card for the dog.
Costco countered, alleging that Ozzie was not ‘visually identifiable’ as a service animal.
In the end, the court ordered Costco to pay Low $8,000 for emotional distress.
Tips when going to Costco
Do you consider bringing your pet to Costco? If your dog is not a service animal, just leave them at home.
Follow Costco’s rules for your dog’s sake and for the welfare of service dog teams. Be a responsible pet owner or service dog owner.
But if your dog is a service animal, these pointers will help:
- Keep your dog on a leash.
- Doesn’t hurt to outfit your dog with a service animal patch.
- Though service dogs are trained not to defecate or urinate, have them do their business before entering Costco.