BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — In announcing that pets are not permitted in its stores, Publix is joining airlines including Delta, American and JetBlue in working to put an end to the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) scam that continues to plague the public. We have run photo after photo — sent to us by our readers — of rude, inconsiderate Publix shoppers letting their dogs lick, sniff and even defecate in the aisles.
Like airlines, Publix is efforting to send a message to shoppers: true service animals (seeing eye, epileptic, diabetic) are welcome. Biffy Goldawitz and her schnauzer Saul — wearing a red vest purchased from Amazon — are not.
The updated Publix policy prohibits animals from riding in carts, and bans animals that are not truly trained to assist their owner.
However, Publix spokeswoman Nicole Krauss concedes that there is a fine line between what Publix can request and what Publix can do.
“Under published ADA regulations,” she tells BocaNewsNow.com, “Publix can only ask two questions regarding animals in the store:
1. Is the animal a service animal? If “Yes”,
2. What task does the animal perform?”
Krauss says the store manager must then decide what to do with that information.
“Managers have to make a decision based on the responses received. There are potential civil penalties under the ADA if Publix wrongfully excludes a true service animal. However, service animals will not be permitted to ride in our shopping carts due to food safety and sanitation concerns. The policy change has been implemented based on guidance issued by the Department of Justice.”
The Department of Transportation is currently reviewing the policy that permitts ESA’s on airplanes. Airlines are increasingly requiring passengers needing ESA’s to prove their need — and that the animal is legitimately trained — at least 48 hours before flight time.
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