Retailer Wilko has announced pets will be able join their owners in-store across the UK, with some customers threatening to boycott the store as a consequence.
The Nottinghamshire-based company has more than 400 stores UK-wide, but the new initiative will only be allowed in 248 stores after a successful pilot scheme.
Writing about the new policy on Facebook the company said: "A pet is more than just a pet, they’re family. That’s why we’ve decided to welcome pets in-store at 248 of our locations.
"We hope that shoppers will enjoy bringing their furry friends along with them.
"Please check for new signage at the entrance of your local store to see if they are participating."
More than 10,000 people have commented on the post which has received over 15,500 positives reactions in comparison to just under 200 negative reactions.
One customer wrote: "Not a good move for people with allergies. Unless it’s a guide dog or specifically trained assistance dog I don’t think it’s necessary."
In response, Wilko posted: "We understand some customers who have allergies may have concerns about coming into contact with pets in our stores. That’s why we’re asking team members to help monitor the number of pets instore so you can easily avoid any animals as you would in other public places where pets allowed. If you do feel uncomfortable, our team members will be on hand to help you further."
Another upset customer threatened to boycott the stores if the new rule stayed in place: "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!"
On the other hand, many Facebook commenters welcomed the gesture.
“What a brilliant idea! I really don't like being among loads of people so having a few dogs about will make me feel much more relaxed. I don't why people are so against dogs being in shops, when you think of the very "sick" humans walking about who are much more dangerous to us all,” wrote one commenter.
The company responded: "A huge number of our customers think of their pet as a member of their family, which is why we think it’s important to welcome them in-store wherever possible."
Rules governing the new policy include the use of leads at all times and no entry to the food aisles with pets.