Most dog owners are keen to integrate their pets into their life as much as possible. Taking your dog out shopping can be great fun and saves leaving them home alone.
Not all stores are welcoming to animals, but Lowes has a reputation for being pet-friendly. As a home improvement business, this is a suitable and uncontroversial location for taking a dog compared to a fashion store or luxury good emporium.
However, just because it’s pet-friendly doesn’t mean you can take your standard pet whenever you feel like it. There can be a world of difference between company policy and what happens on the ground.
There are 1,728 Lowes locations in the USA, and the state with the highest number of Lowes stores is Texas, with 142 outlets. Does the one near you allow dogs?
In this article, we take a closer look at Lowes’ store policy on dogs.
Can You Bring Your Dog into Lowes?
The official Lowes policy on dogs states that the home improvement center allows only service dogs in the stores. But Lowes has a reputation for being dog-friendly, and it’s common to see plenty of dogs with their owners wandering up and down the store aisles.
In 2016, Lowes was proud to offer employment to a man and his service dog, Blue. The owner, Owen, could not find work due to a brain injury.
This story became a media sensation. Both Owen and Blue received with their very own Lowes vests and now greet guests at a store in North Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada.
Lowes has also employed a disabled veteran and his service dog, Charlotte, in one of their Texas stores. You can’t get more committed to dogs than that!
However, there are plenty of online stories where some stores have refused companion dogs entry—so what is their official policy?
Pre 2012, the rules were more relaxed, but Lowes changed their policy regarding dogs in stores in that year. Currently, the policy is to allow only genuine service dogs in Lowes stores. These dogs must be on the leash and kept under control, and the owner is responsible for cleaning up any mess they make.
Interestingly enough, fast forward ten years to 2022, and a thorough internet search will reveal that there is no specific dog policy in any information published about Lowes. Instead, Lowes’s official position on allowing dogs in store falls under their “Accessibility Policy.”
Lowes Accessibility Policy supports the company’s commitment to making all locations accessible to all customers by focusing on equality, dignity, integration, and independence. Their approach to accessibility focuses on ensuring they can meet every customer’s needs in store.
Buried in the Accessibility Policy is a direct reference to service animals. The policy states that service dogs are more than welcome in Lowes stores, and that’s where it stops. There is no reference made to any other sort of dog or companion animal.
Lowes’s customer service suggests checking with your local store if your dog is a pet and not a registered service dog.
Are There Lowes Store-Specific Policies?
It’s not uncommon to see plenty of dogs wandering around with their owners in Lowes, and it seems unlikely that these are all registered Emotional Support Animals or service dogs.
There are no Lowes’ store-specific policies written down. However, there does seem to be a degree of managerial discretion. In reality, admission for non-service dogs varies from location to location.
Customers have reported that the policy about dogs may vary from store to store and depend upon the individual management, so if you are not sure, then call ahead.
Are There Exceptions to Lowes’ Rules?
If a companion dog is difficult or misbehaves, management is likely to ask both it and the owner to leave. The reason is the risk of accident or injury, and there is a precedent for this.
In 2014, law enforcement arrested an Akita owner when his pet dog attacked a toddler in the Murietta branch of Lowes in Canada. It was a severe attack, and the infant received fifty stitches.
You can imagine that an incident like this may have meant Lowes more strictly enforced the rules for some time afterward.
There are no recorded incidents of a service dog misbehaving like this. Indeed, it’s probably less likely as these animals must demonstrate temperamental suitability, undergo training to serve their owners’ needs, and show the ability to be out and about in public places.
Another possible exception to Lowes’ policies may be emotional support animals. Under the ADA, emotional support animals do not qualify as service dogs. However, because ESAs can serve in a support capacity, it is possible that Lowes may make an exception. The best course of action is to inquire with your local home improvement center.
How Are the In-Store Rules Enforced at Lowes?
Lowes has a policy of greeting guests at the door, so this is the time when they would determine the status of a dog entering the store. Greeters might ask the owner to produce evidence of service dog registration.
Sometimes, a service dog’s role is clear from the owner’s impairment or disability, but many service dogs support mental and psychological problems that are not visible.
Most service dogs wear an evident harness, but this is not sufficient proof as any dog owner can buy these online.
Is Service Dog Fraud a Thing?
Service dogs are becoming increasingly commonplace in the USA, with an estimated 500,000 service dogs in America. This number is rising.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs must have access to almost every location where the public can go.
Service dogs can often circumvent ‘no pet’ policies in retail outlets and rental accommodation. A service dog exemption can avoid fees in holiday properties too.
With so many protections, some pet owners may find it tempting to use a fake service dog harness and keep the pet with them at all times.
Service dog registration is advisable but not compulsory, and there is no overall control in the US over service dog status.
Now, 23 different American states have enabled regulations to fine dog owners who attempt to pass their dogs off as service dogs or other pets as legitimate emotional support animals.
Most states impose fines ranging from $25 to $1,000, depending on the state. Some also carry a prison sentence varying from 30 to 90 days.
Owners who use a fake harness on their dog to gain entry to Lowes may have to pay fines and serve jail time.
The situation is ironic, in a way. Attempts to deceive Lowes staff with a fake harness could land that dog owner in a whole heap of trouble when they could have entered the store accompanied by their pet without being challenged.
In reality, there are many everyday situations where dog owners may try and deceive a property owner or business even though a place like Lowes has a reputation for being pet-friendly.
The official stance is that only service dogs can enter Lowes stores, and you may have to prove your canine’s status with appropriate registration. But many Lowes stores allow all sorts of dogs inside, including emotional support animals and everyday pets. It depends on where you live and seems to be at the discretion of management.
If you have an emotional support animal, it’s best to register your ESA. You can find registration documents, ID cards, harnesses, and more at ESA Registration of America. Protect your ESA with proof of registration so that you can both enter Lowes worry-free.
Register your ESA and get an ESA letter to take all the uncertainty out of the situation.