A Marion man said he’s concerned after seeing dogs inside shopping carts in the food section of Walmart and the unsanitary conditions that can cause.
And a spokesman for Walmart said his company adheres to federal law regarding a service animal for the disabled and whether they can be inside a shopping cart.
Bruce Messing of Marion said he was recently in the food section at the local Walmart where he saw another customer with a small dog inside the shopping cart. He told The McDowell News he fears this creates unsanitary conditions. He’s not alone. A Google search shows similar concerns have made news across the nation over the last several years.
“This is just not right to put a dog inside a food cart,” he said. “There was food in the cart. (The other customer) was actually telling the dog not to eat the cheese in the cart.”
Messing said he’s worried about the next person who uses the cart.
“I wish I had taken a picture,” he said. “I didn’t think that was possible until I saw it.”
Messing added he contacted the management of the Marion store and was told it was their store’s policy to allow service animals inside a food cart.
“They don’t question it,” he said. “They just allow it.”
He said spoke with the management of two other local grocery store chains and was told they don’t allow it.
Charles Crowson is a spokesman with Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
“We adhere to all the state and federal rules regarding the use of service animals and the ADA,” he said, but added in many circumstances, it is up to the store’s discretion.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires state and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. This includes service animals for the disabled.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has published a document titled “Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA.” You can find it here: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.
Regarding whether service animals can be inside shopping carts, the federal Department of Justice’s said they are allowed inside the grocery store but should not be inside the food cart.
“Generally, the dog must stay on the floor, or the person must carry the dog,” reads the document. “For example, if a person with diabetes has a glucose alert dog, he may carry the dog in a chest pack so it can be close to his face to allow the dog to smell his breath to alert him of a change in glucose levels.”
An emotional support, therapy or companion dog is not considered a service animal under the ADA, according to the Department of Justice.
“Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability,” reads the Department of Justice’s statement. “The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.”