Publix, the Florida-based grocery store chain, is telling pet owners that they can come into the store but their animals cannot.
Large signs are popping up in Publix stores that say that service animals can come inside the stores, but pets, including ones that are considered emotional support animals, are not allowed, WJAX reported.
A therapy dog is similar to a service dog and is allowed, according to our sister station WJAX’s law and safety expert, Dale Carson.
“We do have new signage in all stores not just certain areas,” Publix spokesperson Hannah Herring told the Tampa Bay Times in an email, “but our policy remains the same.”
The policy, which can be found online, says: “A service animal is a dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks to assist an individual with a disability. Dogs, miniature horses, or other animals that provide only emotional support, comfort, or companionship are not considered service animals.”
Some of the duties a service animal can do include:
- Retrieve items for someone in a wheelchair.
- Remind a person to take medication.
- Alert a person of a looming panic attack.
- Alert a person if a seizure is starting.
They are working animals and not pets, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The sign cites federal law and that the Food and Drug Administration does not allow animals that are not designated for service, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
The service animal also may not be put into a store’s shopping cart or wheelchair basket attachment, the company said.
The policy is not new and has been in place since 2020, but stores are reminding shoppers about the rules. No reason was given as to why Publix decided to remind its customers now, The Palm Beach Post reported.
A doctor’s note isn’t enough for a pet to get a pass, according to the store signs, which also advise customers that it is illegal in Florida to misrepresent a pet and that doing so is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Most news outlets said that shoppers are accepting the rules. But not everyone is.
WPTV reported that one woman is now boycotting Publix.
Lina Avihannal said she and her dog would go out for a walk and would stop by their local Publix in downtown West Palm Beach. But her routine would need changing under the rule.
“Now, I cannot do that,” she told WPTV. “I have to come home, drop the dog off and go back out.”
But that’s not going to be happening.
“My plan is not to go to this Publix again,” Avihannal told the news station.
Publix’s policy says stores will provide assistance if needed.