Are you planning to get your groceries down at HEB? Wondering whether this supermarket chain allows dogs inside? Well before you set off, here is what you should be aware of.
So, are dogs allowed in HEB? Dogs are not allowed in HEB, as per company policy. The only exception is service dogs who are legally protected from such policies (and can go anywhere required with the individual they work for). On the front store doors, you should notice a sign that states “service animals only”.
In fact, in 2019 HEB publically announced via Twitter their position on dogs in their stores:
Pretty clear, right?
But why do they have such a company-wide policy and why may you have seen dogs in there before (even if they don’t look like service dogs)?
Let’s get into it!
Why Are Dogs Not Allowed In HEB?
Pet dogs are not allowed in HEB as this is a business that sells food.
It is written into the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA’s) guidelines, that with few exceptions, live animals are not allowed on the premises of grocery stores, restaurants, or other food establishments.
This is a regulation to protect consumers. Besides, animals can be unsanitary, so this law is in place to protect the food supply from contamination.
Whether that be from drool, urine, feces, infections, bacteria, or other matter they may bring into the store on their paws and coats and displace onto store shelves.
And this applies to pets, not just dogs.
So that’s cats, birds and other animals, too.
HEB can only comply.
And this is why you see a universal no pet policy.
But back to those exceptions, what are they exactly.
Well, the main one to be aware of is service dogs.
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
So as you can see, individuals are entirely dependent on their dogs to go about their day-to-day lives.
And HEB, or any other business, would be seen under the law to be discriminating against a disability should they not allow a service dog entry to one of their stores.
Remember, this is the exception and it does not apply to pets.
Why Are Dogs Sometimes Seen In HEB?
Dogs are sometimes seen in HEB if they are working Service dogs, or if people are abusing this policy granted to individuals with disabilities.
And here is where it gets a little tricky.
Most service dogs are clearly identifiable.
They wear special harnesses or collars. Often, individuals will also carry peppers or IDs stating the purpose of the dog.
However, this is not always the case.
Service dogs cannot always be confirmed.
And this is where the law is open to manipulation.
HEB staff can only ask whether a dog is a service dog, and what it does.
If an individual responds to these questions, then the staff cannot refuse entry or ask for the dog to be taken outside.
In fact, there have been lawsuits against employees who have done this to individuals with unmarked service dogs in the past – getting sued in the process.
So, all in all, there is little HEB can do.
They can state that animals are not allowed.
And if the individual does admit it’s a pet, then they can be asked to leave.
But, if the individual states it is a service animal, rightly or wrongly, they will be allowed to remain.
And as the ADA sets out, staff cannot ask for proof.
So now we can see how both real, active service dogs can be seen in HEB and sometimes pet dogs who violate this much-needed policy.
HEB does not allow dogs, outside of working service dogs.
But as we can see here today, this is a law and regulation that individuals can get around.
Now, I am not here to make any moral judgments, nor am I making any advice on what you can and should do.
Instead, I am merely relaying to you why you may see dogs in stores, even if policy states otherwise.
Just consider that these laws and policies are in place to protect everyone; from potential food contamination all the way through to the needs and requirements of those who need their service dogs.
Do what’s right.
And if you are wondering where else you can take your dog inside, check out the following guides below:
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.