You may remember the many advertising campaigns featuring Target’s mascot: Bullseye the English Bull Terrier. And, given that association of dogs and the brand, you may be wondering if dogs are allowed in Target and if your dog could accompany you on a shopping excursion.
Is Target Dog Friendly?
Target stores have an extensive grocery section–so that means that pet dogs are NOT allowed in Target stores, just as they’re not allowed in your local grocery store.
When asked if stores were dog friendly, Target shared on Twitter, “Only service animals are allowed in our stores.”
We have a solution below if you’re out running errands with your dog and need to pick up something at Target!
Why Aren’t Dogs Allowed in Target Stores?
Target does not allow dogs (other than service dogs) into the store due to health regulations. (This is the same reason why dogs are permitted only in outdoor patio restaurants, not indoors at the restaurant.)
Grocery stores are regulated by state and local governments. Surprisingly, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which states:
Examples of Food businesses NOT regulated by FDA:
- Retail food establishments (i.e. grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and food trucks), which are regulated by state and local governments.
- Farmers markets
Instead, state laws prohibit admittance of pet dogs into grocery stores.
But I’ve seen dogs in my local Target store!
Have you ever seen a dog in Target on one of your shopping trips? There are three possibilities:
1. The dog you are seeing is a service dog.
Service dogs are allowed in Target stores and other public places per the American Disabilities Act (ADA). 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. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Remember: you cannot always tell which dogs are service dogs. Service dogs can include Diabetic Alert Dogs, Seizure Alert Dogs, Hearing Dogs and many more.
Service dogs are not required to wear any type of harness, vest or tag–-so it’s not always apparent that a dog is working. What you think is a pet dog being carried around Target may be a diabetic alert dog trained to detect changes in his owner’s breath indicating a drop in blood sugar.
2. The dog you are seeing is a service dog in training.
Service dogs in training may or may not be allowed in a Target store because the rules for service dogs in training are made by the states.
Here in Texas, for example, the law clearly states, “A service animal in training must not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer.”
That’s not the case in every state, however–so know your rights before entering the store with a service dog in training.
3. The owner of the dog you are seeing is breaking the law.
If your dog is not a trained service dog (or a service dog in training, in some states), do NOT attempt to misrepresent your dog as a service dog. If you do, you are breaking the law. Depending on where you live, misprepresenting your dog as a service dog can carry a fine of up to $1000.
Can I bring an emotional support dog in Target?
Emotional support dogs don’t have the same rights as service dogs–but the ADA notes that different states may handle this different ways. According to their website:
Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?
No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. However, some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support animals into public places. You may check with your State and local government agencies to find out about these laws.
There you have it: check state laws to learn if your emotional support dog qualifies under the protections of a service dog.
What if I need to get something at Target when I’m out with my dog?
If you need to run in Target while you’re out with your dog, the best thing to do is run your dog back home then tend to your shopping.
Please do NOT ever leave your dog alone in the car. The temperature can soar to deadly levels even on what seem to be fairly temperate days. (And don’t forget that there’s always the risk of dognapping while you are in the store.)
Along with home delivery of some items, you can also select order pickup at Target–and choose Drive Up to pick up your Target purchases from your car. According to the Target website, “Place an order on Target.com for Order Pickup, then use the Target app to switch to Drive Up when it’s ready.”