Are Dogs Allowed In Goodwill? [Is This Store Dog-Friendly?]

Are you looking to head down to Goodwill? Perhaps you’re looking to donate or thrift. Wondering whether you can take your dog inside along with you? Well, here is what you are going to need to know.

So, are dogs allowed in Goodwill? Dogs are generally not allowed in Goodwill stores, nor are any other pet for that matter. The only exception is service dogs; those that work for disabled individuals and are legally required and protected under law to enter.

It’s a key distinction to be aware of.

Besides, you may be wondering what constitutes a service dog and what doesn’t.

Let us now take a look below before delving into why pet dogs are typically not admitted entrance to the various locations of this non-profit organization.

Why Are Service Dogs Allowed In Goodwill?

Service dogs are allowed in Goodwill for two reasons; for one, individuals are largely dependent on them to go about their day-to-day lives. Secondly, if Goodwill were to refuse entry to one, they would be liable to discrimination charges under the law.

But back to the definition of service dogs, what are they exactly anyway?

Well, here is how service dogs are defined by the ADA (US Department of Justice – Civil Rights Division).

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets.

Source: ADA Requirements, Service Animals

This is the definition to use.

Although, there is an important caveat here as it states over at the ADA resource page:

“Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the relevant State attorney general’s office.”

So there is this to consider too.

What this all means, for the most part, is that service dogs are highly trained.

They will have been carefully raised and socialized and therefore generally much more mild-mannered.

Besides, they are bred to perform a task. One that an individual simply could not do on their own.

Now, here is another thing to consider too:

“Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”

So do bear that in mind, also.

Now, staff at Goodwill may be able to ask an individual about the nature of their dog. But, if they are told it’s a service dog, they cannot refuse entry.

Nor can they request proof or documentation.

In fact, this non-profit has received quite a lot of bad press relating to this in the past and had to change its policy.

Why Are Dogs Not Allowed In Goodwill?

Dogs are not allowed in Goodwill to protect the staff, other customers and also to generally ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone at the store.

Now, we all know that dogs can differ quite a lot.

Whether it be their breed, size, temperament, the amount they shed, etc.

And not all dogs will behave so well in a store environment.

Some may get overly excited, some may bark, some may even make a mess.

The Goodwill no-pet policy is there to simplify.

By not allowing any dogs it takes away the need to assess on a case-by-case basis.

Besides, there can be developments in a store that turn an otherwise well-behaved dog into an animated one.

Dog mess, pet hair, and dander; these are all things to consider too.

Some people, particularly kids, are afraid of dogs – others have allergies.

Not allowing dogs, or other pets is a means of ensuring that everyone can visit without concern.


Dogs are not allowed in Goodwill – for the most part.

Service dogs are the only exception here.

So do not take your dog along with you; it will likely be a wasted journey.

While you may be able to leave your dog in the car, it is far from ideal; you won’t be able to leave them too long anyway (well at least, you shouldn’t).

And tieing your dog up outside; well that has its own drawbacks so this is really not advised either.

So make other arrangements before your visit.

And if you are wondering where else you can take your dog inside, check out the following guides below: