Wilko has given permission for dog owners to bring their pets into shops from today as part of a nationwide change.
However, some shoppers are upset with the alteration as it became clear that leads were not compulsory in the 248 stores across the UK.
The rollout has been made to over two-thirds of Wilko’s home and garden stores and will allow pets to browse all areas of participating stores, except for food aisles.
One disappointed Wilko customer even said she would be boycotting the business as a result, while Wilko responded by saying “many customers think of pets as family members”.
The disgruntled customer wrote: “This is no good for my child that has anaphylaxis reactions to animal dander and saliva.
“Service dogs have their place in stores and we can avoid them and monitor, they are well behaved etc.. pets do not belong in stores and raises the risk for my son to come in contact with areas that have been contaminated!
“We won’t be shopping in your all dogs welcome stores!”
Another fan of the shop, Charl Naylor, said: “I like dogs, but don’t particularly want them around me in a shop. Lots of people are afraid of dogs, and being in a confined space with them isn’t going to be a pleasant experience.
“Plus, I’d be afraid of stepping on paws if the dogs gets unwantingly too close (sic)…”
The participating stores are primarily those with their own on-street entrance and exit, with stores in Avonmeads and Bedminster both signing up to the changes, according to the Bristol Post.
Natalie Mitchell said: “One shop I will now not be shopping in to keep myself and my assistance dog safe!!
“Wilko you should do better and no better shame on you! I have already had an incident in one of your stores with a pet dog trying to attack my assistance dog!! And that was before you did this stupid rule.”
Samantha Ralfe also said the idea isn’t good for guide dogs, adding: “As a Guide Dog user I think this is a rather ill-thought-through idea
“It’s hard enough navigating around the shop, to begin with then adding extra distractions of other animals it could end in disaster.
“Unfortunately not every animal owner can be bothered to train their dogs correctly what will happen if any assistance dog is attacked in store will Wilkos Footing the vets bills.”
Signage at store entrances will make it clear if pets are welcome, although customers can also check with the store team if they are at all unsure. Service dogs on the other hand remain welcome at all stores nationwide.
Animal lovers will no longer have to wait outside the store with their pets while other family members browse inside.
Tricia Golding added: “Don’t put anything on the bottom shelves then as they will get peed on! Why would you want to take a blooming dog shopping? There are many places for dogs like parks, coasts, woods, etc. that dogs can enjoy- shopping is not one of them.
“No, I’m not happy with this!”
Ruth Hughes said: “I am a long term dog owner but I disapprove. I would never tie my dog outside. Make a journey just for shopping and another just for dog walking. Simple”
However, despite the criticism, a lot of people backed the idea, too.
Natalie Druce said: “My dog is my family I hate not going with out her she like my support dog.”
Linda Carroll said: “I rely on my dog to keep me calm, when she is with me I don’t have panic attacks, this would be great for me, agoraphobia watch out, Giz is taking me shopping in one of my favorite stores .”
The brand expects most of its pet customers to be either dogs or cats, and they believe many of their products in-store will get their tails wagging.
Wilko stocks everything from pet food to treats, bedding to toys, cleaning supplies to healthy pet essentials and even presents, costumes and accessories during key seasonal celebrations such as Christmas.
For other animal family members, the retailer is also home to reptile, bird and fish pet supplies.
Wilko replied to some people on Facebook, adding: “Many customers think of pets as family members, which is why we want to let them instore wherever we can.
“We’re only welcoming pets into stores that suit their needs and are asking they be kept from food isolates.
“Check entrance signage to see if your wilko store is pet friendly!”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.