Publix reminding pet owners about their animal policies

Ralph Calatchi, 74, depends on his two-year old German Shepard Labrador mix named Atlas. (WPEC)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) - Popular grocery chain Publix is reminding it’s customers your four legged friends are not allowed to ride in shopping carts.

Publix said it posted signs in its stores to inform customers only service dogs are allowed inside. It doesn’t matter how big they are, they have to stay on the ground.

Doctor Ralph Calatchi, 74, depends on his two-year old German Shepard Labrador mix named Atlas.

Atlas goes everywhere with Dr. Calatchi who suffers from Parkinson’s.

They take trips to France, they golf and they grocery shop together.

“He will help me if I have an emergency,” Dr. Calatchi said.

But not everyone who takes their dog to the store actually, needs the dog to perform daily tasks.

“Unfortunately even in my profession you see many people who try to get a dog as a service animal for many different reasons, but not for the reason they actually need it like Dr. Ralph here who needs the dog to help him with everyday tasks,” said Shay Maimoni, Woof Dogs We Speak Your Dogs Language.

Maimoni, who trained Atlas, said he supports Publix posting this sign in its stores.

“Many people just abuse it and don't really train the dog properly,” Maimoni said.

But at the same time he wants people to know service dogs come in all sizes and some people need them close by.

“It can be a dog in a shopping cart and he is actually there to help his owner. Sometimes when they are on the ground they are actually disturbing the owner with everyday takes,” Maimoni said.

In a statement Publix said, “ Our policy on service animals in our stores has not changed. In an effort to raise awareness and understanding, the decision was made to post this note as a reminder. Publix is an associate- owned company that cares about its customers and it is important for us to create a pleasant shopping environment. “

For Dr. Calatchi and Atlas the note doesn’t change a thing. They meet the criteria.

Publix also specified therapy dogs and emotional support dogs are not allowed inside.

Only service animals under the American with Disabilities Act.

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