Cerabino: Finding a companion program to doggie crackdown at Publix

The CAVE Society applauds Publix for its new signs aimed at keeping most dogs out of the supermarkets.

We Citizens Against Virtually Everything have been annoyed by the gradual inclusion of canines into the shopping experience, especially those transported in baby strollers or infant harnesses.

These dogs are almost never service animals, which are highly trained and disciplined dogs that perform specific tasks for their human companions. The overwhelming majority of the shopping dogs are what has been loosely called an “emotional support animal,” which as a title is about as valid as the doctoral degrees conferred on university commencement speakers.

So we applaud Publix for posting signs outside the stores that remind shoppers that service dogs will be the only dogs allowed inside, and no service dog will be permitted to sit inside the shopping cart.

But we know the Dog Shopping Lobby is strong, and we’d hate to see this sensible policy result in a boycott, followed by a tepid apology and a policy reversal.

That can be avoided, we believe, if Publix creates a new program to go along with its new no-dogs signs.

Let me explain.

For starters, it would be a good public relations move to acknowledge that some shoppers, without their dogs, might feel an emotional-support vacuum while squeezing the avocados in the produce section or checking the expiration dates on the cottage cheese.

Even though shopping is allegedly “a pleasure” at Publix, the company needs to realize that it can be traumatic to some, especially if you’re trying to check out behind a leisurely customer who insists on paying in exact change, but can’t seem to excavate enough pennies from his or her pocket or purse.

Yes, Publix. Now’s the time to confess that despite your slogan, shopping in your stores may, for some, not be as pleasurable as advertised, and may require a measure of emotional support. Especially if you include in the parking-lot experience into the mix.

So what you need to do is simple. Find a substitute for the emotional-support dogs.

I’m talking about emotional-support humans. Although we at CAVE suggest it may be more polite to call them “emotional-support shopping assistants.” They would be, in essence, souped-up bag boys.

Right now, you employ legions of high school boys or Social Security grandpas to mill around the registers and flirt with the cashiers. Sure, these bag boys occasionally help load groceries into carts and offer to walk shoppers to their cars. But it’s minimal interaction, and only at the end of the shopping trip.

With the absence of emotional-support dogs in your stores, Publix should announce that arriving shoppers who require emotional-support assistance, will get to select from a pool of available bag boys standing at the ready by the entrance, perhaps inside a roped-off pen.

Think of it The Bachelorette meets Survivor.

Shoppers will get to say, “I’ll take a sophomore,” or “give me a grandpa who won’t talk about his sciatica.”

I know what you’re thinking: This is going to cost some money. The store’s going to have to hire these emotional-support shopping assistants to fill in for all the missing dogs. Where’s the money going to come from?

The corporate tax cut. Remember that?

Publix, like most big corporations, has been swimming in cash since the national Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, which cut corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent.

The tax cut helped Publix make record earnings of $2.3 billion. You can buy a lot of $9-an-hour emotional-support humans with that kind of money.

As for the other issue, we at CAVE take no position on whether these emotional-support humans should be allowed to ride inside the carts.

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