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Is there a law that bans pets, other than service animals, from stores?

Ken Little

Furry or feathered friends do not make ideal shopping companions, based on a reading of New Hanover County and city of Wilmington codes.

Deputy County Attorney Kemp Burpeau says pets are not allowed if a business has a permit from the New Hanover County Health Department for meat cutting, food processing or food service, or has a restaurant permit.

Violators are subject to a civil penalty.

“Stores without health permits may allow pets at their discretion,” Burpeau says.

Food Lion spokeswoman Jennifer Speck says service animals are welcome in the supermarket chain’s stores, but not other critters.

“We do have a policy against bringing pets into stores. While we do

allow service animals, we discourage bringing pets into stores,” Speck says.

Walmart spokeswoman Michelle Bradford says the retail giant has a similar policy.

Assistant City Attorney R. Lynn Coleman says the city defers to pet-related provisions enforced by the county health department, although there are city laws on the books prohibiting bringing animals to crowded special events, such as Riverfest and the Azalea Festival, which are closed to regular traffic. Animals that are part of an authorized event or parade are excluded from the law.

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