Pets not welcome? Publix posts signs prohibiting pets and emotional support animals

The policy against pets and emotional support animals has been on the Publix website since at least 2021. It's unclear why the large no-pet signs are now appearing at the fronts of stores.


Publix is ​​a place for produce, buy-one-get-one prices, and a selection of sandwiches known as Pub Subs.

The famous Florida supermarket chain is a place where everyone is welcome, maybe even very special World famous soccer stars like Lionel Messi. pets? Not as much.

Customers are beginning to notice large signs in the front Publix grocery stores throughout Florida just reminding shoppers service animals are allowed in the store – no personal pets and not even emotional support animals.

The difference between service animals and emotional support animals is clear, as the sign on the door explains in detail.

“By federal law, service animals are dogs or miniature horses that are trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities,” the sign reads. “The FDA has not allowed non-animal animals into grocery stores. Dogs, pets, and other animals whose sole function is to provide comfort, companionship, or emotional support are not considered service animals and are not permitted in Publix, even with a medical certificate.

The Company Policy on Service Animals has been there for years. However, it's not clear what prompted Publix to adopt the new store signs, and a spokesman for the company's South Florida region did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Customers agree that Publix's policy is a smart security precaution

A regular at Publix on Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach, who identified only as Jeff, said he relied on a service dog to help cope with his ongoing battle with cancer and his previous military experience. He said the branch policy is a smart safety precaution.

“A lot of other dogs aren't friendly,” he said. “You shouldn't have bad dogs there because they might smell someone and bite them.”

Another man, who identified himself only as Mark, was shopping just off Southern Boulevard Publix at the neighboring Pet Supermarket on Saturday morning. He said the new signs are a valuable reminder of that animals and grocery stores do not mix.

“I like that there are no pets,” he said. “The animal stable interferes. These are things I don't want near my food. And when they put them in the cart, this dog – excuse my French – wipes his butt in the cart.”

Apparently Publix would agree. Company policy states that all animals, including service dogs, “are prohibited from being carried in a Publix shopping cart (even on a mat) or in Publix wheelchair baskets.”

And all animals, the policy says, can be removed if they pose a danger to other shoppers.

“We also require that service animals that are out of control, pose a health or safety hazard, or are not housebroken are removed from the premises,” the policy reads. “The person can continue shopping in the store without the animal. Publix is ​​happy to offer personal shopping assistance to this person upon request.”

Misrepresenting pets as service animals is a crime

The new signs are a reminder of this Florida law prohibits people from misrepresenting their pets as service animals. The offense is a second-degree misdemeanor and the offenders are required to do 30 hours of community service for an organization that cares for people with disabilities.

“If you misrepresent your pet as a service animal, you will negatively impact the quality of life and independence of service animal users,” the Publix sign reads.

The policy appears to be popular with many Publix customers, but such rules can be difficult to enforce, said Josephine Grace, the owner of Dog Training Elite in Palm Beach County.

This is because some dogs are well-behaved and their handlers are in control, but they are not necessarily service animals trained to perform specific tasks for their owners.

Service dogs can also be difficult to identify because they come in all sizes and breeds, and they help with both visible and invisible disabilities, Grace said, citing the example of a dog trained to help with anxiety attacks in people with post-traumatic illness help stress disorder.

The dealer does not have to submit any documentation that their service animal is trained and state law prohibits staff from inquiring about “the nature or degree of a person’s disability.”

However, the law goes on to say: “A public entity may ask whether an animal is a service animal needed because of a disability and what work or tasks the animal was trained for.”

Giuseppe Sabella is a community reporter for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at [email protected]. Help support our journalism and Subscribe today.

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