Pets at Work

Thanks to Ted R. for barking ina bout this article from Washington CEO. Pets at work can relieve stress in the office sometimes By: Jodi...


Flora and Lily

Thanks to Ted R. for barking ina bout this article from Washington CEO.

Pets at work can relieve stress in the office sometimes
By: Jodi Helmer

DOG TREATS and rawhide bones are just a few of the items tucked into desk drawers at Owen Media. The extras are handed out to the dogs who work alongside their owners at the Seattle-based public relations firm. Lily and Flora have been coming to work with their owner, Paul Owen, since he founded the firm in 1997. In addition to snagging treats from staff members, the dogs also greet the mailman and nap under desks.

We live on deadline, and the dogs provide a lot of stress relief,” says Owen. Instead of getting lost in the abstract deliverables we produce for clients, the dogs bring us down to earth, even if its just to go for a short walk or stop to scratch behind their ears for a few minutes.”

Lily, a German shepherd mix, and Flora, a West Highland white terrier, are part of one of the hottest trends in business: dog-friendly workplaces. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), one in five companies in the United States allows pets at work. Pet Sitters International reports that more than 10,000 companies nationwide participated in the 2006 Take Your Dog to Work Day, compared with only 300 companies when the event started in 1997.

Owen Media is one of numerous Washington-based companies that allow even encourage staff to bring their pets to work. Talking Dog Media in Bellevue, Henery Hardware in Port Townsend, the Delta Society in Renton and REI in Seattle also allow pets in the workplace. The trend is growing, thanks to recent research that highlights the positive effects of bringing four-legged friends to work. APPMA found that 55 million respondents said having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment, 53 million said it decreases absenteeism and 37 million said that pets can improve relationships between managers and staff.

Thats the case at This is an innovative, forward-thinking company, and playing with the dogs at work lets us stretch our minds and think creatively,” says senior public relations manager Drew Herdener. Herdener also believes that bringing his dog, Dulce, a 2-year-old yellow lab and golden retriever cross, to work, has improved his relationships with co-workers. I would estimate that there are dozens of people I know at work because of Dulce,” he says. Either they have dogs and we talk in the halls while our dogs are sniffing each other, or they dont have dogs and come to my office to spend time with my dog.”

Despite the benefits, there are companies and employees who believe that dogs belong at home, not in the office.

Having dogs in the workplace is a distraction to other workers,” says Elizabeth Puckett, a certified nursing assistant with Maximum Healthcare in Tacoma. Where does it stop? If people are allowed to bring dogs, could the next person bring a cat or a lizard? You might as well let people bring their babies [to work].”

REI does not allow pets in its Seattle headquarters, but the company does provide a fenced outdoor run with dog crates adjacent to the building. Dog owners can bring their dogs to work and go out to spend time with them during breaks. Those companies that do decide to allow pets in the workplace often have policies outlining conditions for having dogs at work. At Amazon, dogs must be housebroken, have all shots and be kept gated in the office of their owners. Employees who want to bring their pets to work must first clear it with their officemates. Also, the lease must allow pets in the workplace.

Kitchenware retailer Sur la Table had to change its dog-friendly policy when the company moved offices in 2005. According to media relations manager Susanna Linse, the new offices are in a building occupied by several tenants, which is not conducive to having dogs at work. [The owners] worked really hard to find an office where we could continue bringing our dogs,” says Linse, who brought her German shepherd mix, Luna, to the office for almost 10 years. It was great while it lasted and it was one of the most wonderful benefits Ive ever had as an employee.”

A dog-friendly workplace is a benefit a lot of employees want, according to a survey on Half of respondents would switch jobs if they could bring their dog to work and 43 percent would take a pay cut to be able to work alongside their four-legged friends.

In the last year I have seen more people than ever before get hired and get a dog,” says Herdener of I have interviewed hundreds of candidates during my time at Amazon, and nine out of 10 are excited about the pet-friendly policy. Even if prospective employees arent dog lovers, they see us as an open-minded company, and people want to work for that kind of company.”

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