Publix is a popular supermarket chain with 1,385 stores nationwide and 876 stores in Florida. For years, Publix has had a policy of following Federal Law that bans all dogs except professionally trained service dogs for the disabled from entering their stores, but in practice did not enforce the policy especially in the last few years. However, recently Publix made news by indicating it would begin actively enforcing its dog policy in its Florida supermarkets including those nearby in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Wellington, West Palm Beach, etc.
The policy allows shoppers with disabilities to bring their official service dogs into the store, but other dogs are not allowed even if they are for “emotional support”, on a leash, in a grocery cart, in a carrying case or held by its owner. Managers at Publix stores throughout Florida are posting huge signs on the front door of each location to put shoppers on notice of this policy and have been instructed to involve law enforcement and charge shoppers who refuse to leave with trespassing or to ban repeat offenders from their premises. Going forward, if a shopper enters the store with a dog, Publix employees may ask the dog owner if the animal is a service animal required because of a disability and what tasks has the animal been trained to perform.
Unpermitted dogs can sniff or lick food resulting in contamination and sickness to customers, interfere with shoppers’ ability to freely traverse aisles, expose shoppers to allergens, or relieve themselves on the floor creating a slip and fall hazard. There is also the risk of an untrained dog being frightened inside the store resulting in an attack or biting another customer or employee.
In fact, in 2014 a woman’s small dog bit and injured a worker at Publix in Palm Beach, Florida. The dog got scared by the sound of the register or the employee bagging the groceries and bit the Publix worker. Had Publix enforced the law and its own policy, this injury would not have happened.
In 2022, a gentleman shopping in Saks Fifth Avenue was bitten by another customer’s dog for no apparent reason, which supports stores like Publix from enacting and enforcing animal policies that limit entrance to service dogs. In April 2023, a shopper at Home Depot was viciously bit in the face by another customer’s dog, which was a non-service animal still in training that should not been in a busy commercial space.
More recently, in June 2023, there was an incident at Yard House in Boca Raton where a pit bull attacked another restaurant customer’s dog resulting in a scary and chaotic scene for other customers who could have been injured in the process.
As you can see, incidents involving dogs in commercial spaces, business, supermarkets, and restaurants is not uncommon making Publix’ decision to strictly enforce its own animal policy well founded. Notably, it appears to be supported by hundreds of Boca Raton News readers who submitted comments to articles on this topic applauding the new crackdown after it was announced. People like dogs, but not at a grocery store or restaurant. Publix offers shoppers who bring their dog with them the option of having their groceries delivered to their home or vehicle.
In Case You Are Injured At A Publix Supermarket
As you probably would expect, under Florida Law, pet owners are responsible and strictly liable for injuries inflicted by their pets with limited exceptions. When dog bites happen in stores, or supermarkets like Publix, generally the store will not be held liable unless it had actual or constructive knowledge of the animal’s vicious nature and did nothing about it. However, in view of the law prohibiting non-service dogs from being in supermarkets as well as Publix’ well publicized policy on enforcement of said law, we believe there may be liability for subsequent incidents where employees failed to enforce the law and/or policy.
As such, if you are attacked by a dog inside a Publix store, you should immediately report the incident to management; take pictures of your injuries, the dog and its owner; and obtain contact information on any witnesses. You should seek medical attention if bitten immediately. Publix should call Animal Control to investigate the dog’s history and to ascertain that it is up to date on its shots. If they fail or refuse to do so, make sure you do it. You may expect to be contacted by a member of the Publix claims department within 24 hours apologizing for the incident and offering you a Publix gift card or a nominal settlement offer. It is strongly advisable to retain a personal injury attorney before making a decision or signing any paperwork that eliminates your rights in the future.
We urge all shoppers to put safety first and leave their dog at home unless it is a professionally trained service animal. If you or a loved one are hurt by an unpermitted animal while shopping at Publix, or elsewhere, do not hesitate to call The Datny Law Firm and our Boca Raton Publix Accident Attorney at 561-221-7474 to discuss how we can help. We proudly represent clients injured throughout Florida. All consultations are FREE and there is no fee unless you get a recovery.