Woolworths has cleared up confusion over why a woman was spotted shopping for groceries at a Melbourne store with two dogs in tow.
The woman drew the attention of a fellow shopper on Saturday about 5pm at the supermarket where customers were on high alert due to strict Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions.
A male witness complained to the retailer’s Facebook page, unaware that the woman’s animals were actually assistance dogs.
He shared a photo of the woman being confronted by a manager for having her dogs in the store and on the post questioned whether it was hygienic to allow the dogs inside.
Woolworths welcomes certified service dogs
Woolworths told Yahoo News Australia the woman and her dogs are regular customers at the store, and the supermarket says it has no problem with people who are accompanied by assistance dogs as long as they carry the correct certification.
Woolworths confirmed regular pets were not permitted inside its stores, and only assistance animals with adequate certification were allowed to join their owner while shopping.
“As per Australian law, customers who have a guide dog or registered companion pets are welcome in our stores. However, we do not allow for everyday pets or animals to enter our stores,” a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
The supermarket’s clarification came after people responded to the Facebook post initially criticising Woolworths for allowing dogs in the store.
What is an assistant dog?
In Australia, there are three main types of assistance dogs; seeing eye dogs, hearing dogs, and those trained to support people with various disabilities.
Guide dogs - a type of seeing eye dog - are trained to stay with their owner at all costs and are unlikely to leave their side in a crisis situation.
It’s a similar case for hearing dogs, which vary in breed and are trained to suit the needs of their owner.
The public should never interact with service dogs as it could tarnish their labour intensive training and cause a rift in the animal-owner bond.
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