Publix signs remind shoppers: Only service dogs allowed in stores
Publix on pups: No animals allowed in shopping carts, including service dogs, chain says. Naples Daily News
Many people love dogs, but that doesn’t mean they are welcome everywhere.
Earlier this week, Publix posted signs at its grocery stores saying, “for food safety reasons, only service animals that are specifically trained to aid a person with disabilities are permitted within the store. Service animals are not permitted to sit or ride in shopping carts.”
Publix’s dog policy didn’t change; the signs were put up to reiterate its policy to raise awareness, said Brian West, spokesman for Publix's Southwest Florida division.
Publix isn’t alone in banning non-service dogs from its stores. Walmart and Wynn’s Market have similar policies.
“We’ve had signs like the Publix ones up for a while,” Walmart spokeswoman Tara Aston said. "But if someone comes into our store with a dog, we aren’t typically going to ask them to verify it's a service dog. It's up to the stores to enforce the policy.”
Wynn’s Market doesn’t have any signs stating its dog policy, but after Publix’s decision, Wynn's plans to put up signs, too.
“Our policy at Wynn’s is we only allow service dogs for people with certified disabilities and it must be on a leash and not in the cart,” said Tom Melillo, safety manager for Wynn’s Market. “It’s a liability issue.”
There's a big difference between a service dog, a therapy dog and an emotional support animal. Wochit
FDA ban does not exempt emotional support dogs
Under a Food and Drug Administration rule, dogs and other animals are not allowed in restaurants, grocery stores and other places where food is prepared. However, service dogs are exempt from the ban.
A service dog is defined as an animal trained to help with a physical disability such as impaired vision or hearing, or an intellectual disability.
The rule also allows dogs that help with post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety attacks to be called service dogs.
But it does not have any exception for emotional support dogs.
If the dog qualifies as a service dog, it’s allowed in most public places, such as planes, restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.
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Florida law allows dogs at outdoor restaurants
In 2006, Florida became the first state to pass another exemption to the FDA’s dog rule, allowing non-service animals on outdoor patios of restaurants that receive permits.
“We have a lot of people that walk their dogs and like to stop by for a bite to eat,” said Adam Balavender, general manager of M Waterfront Grill in Naples. “It's good for business to allow dogs.”
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Under the state's regulations, dogs aren’t allowed on chairs and couches; nor are they allowed to eat off plates. Restaurants can offer water and treats for dogs, but they have to be served on designated disposable plates.
Malls and stores that don't serve food, such as shops at Mercato in North Naples and Coconut Point in Estero, can allow animals at their discretion.
“The Mercato prides itself on being dog-friendly,” said Valerie Cope, marketing director for the complex, which includes condos as well as restaurants and shops. “But ultimately the decision is up to the business on whether to allow dogs in their stores.”