Pets at work have pluses and minuses In this Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, photo, Kristine Florio works as her dog Gio sits in her lap at O'Connell & Goldberg Public Relations, in Hollywood, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Pets at work have pluses and minuses
Lexile

When a conference call turns tedious, Brent Robertson can still count on getting a smile from watching Gus roll around on the floor.
 
Gus is a golden retriever. He is a regular visitor to Fathom. That's Robertson's management consulting business in West Hartford, Connecticut.  So are Pookie and Ari, dogs owned by two of Robertson's co-workers.
 
Beyond the old tradition of a used bookstore or antique shop having a resident cat, some urban delicatessens and bodegas have cats to mitigate any rodent problems. And at some smaller professional businesses, it's becoming more acceptable for employees to bring in their pets. Robertson is among business owners who think having animals around boosts morale. He believes it improves the work atmosphere and raises productivity.
 
"Everyone seems to smile and immediately become a little bit happier," says Barbara Goldberg. She is the CEO of O'Connell & Goldberg. It's a public relations company based in Hollywood, Florida. Her bulldog, Rosie, is a frequent visitor.
 
A survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 7 percent of organizations allow pets in the workplace, though that may not reflect the practices of very small businesses that don't have HR officers.
 
At Badger Maps, owner Steve Benson's Pomeranian mix, Foxy, seems to know when employees of the San Francisco app developer need some comfort.
 
"They're very intuitive," Benson says of dogs. "They have the ability to recognize when someone's stressed out."
 
But not everyone, including employees, customers and visitors, thinks animals belong in an office or a store. Some people are allergic or afraid. They might take their business elsewhere. So besides paying attention to permission from landlords and laws about having animals where food is being prepared, people need to consider how to accommodate uncomfortable staffers or clients.
 
Rodney Alvarez is a human resources executive at Celtra. It is a video advertising company. He says legal issues to consider include making sure the company's insurance covers any incidents like biting, and keeping animals well-behaved so they won't frighten visitors. Some owners say when they interview job candidates, they let them know there are pets around.
 
Staffers at Celtra's San Francisco office asked to bring in their pooches. Managers decided that was OK at its four offices. But, Alvarez says, that is only if every staffer agreed. One Boston employee said no. So there are no dogs in that office.
 
One regular deliveryman to Fathom is petrified of dogs. Since Gus "is a full contact dog," Robertson says, "we collect the dogs and put them away in a room so (the deliveryman) can do his thing."
 
And at Sterling Communications, seven of the 20 staffers want to bring their dogs into the Los Gatos, California-based office. The company's CEO, Marianne O'Connor, who has a German shepherd named Kaya, worked out a schedule. It allows two dogs each day. Upholstered furniture may be off limits.
 
"We push them off gently. And they learn, that's not for them," O'Connor says.
 
When visitors arrive, pups may be placed in a closed office. It has a water bowl and toy.
 
At Crescent City Books in New Orleans, the majority of customers are glad to see Isabel, a Maine coon mix cat, and some let her curl up on their laps as they sit reading.
 
"Most with any issues just keep their distance," manager Michael Zell says.
 
Most often, a business becomes pet-friendly when it's the owner who brings an animal in. Anne Buchanan adopted a dog about 12 years ago who turned out to be emotionally needy and much happier when Buchanan was around. So she began taking him to work at her eponymous PR firm in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
 
As her company grew, staffers asked if they could bring pets in, too. There are generally two dogs in the office. Sometimes, there's as many as four. They include Buchanan's two rescues, Katie and Lacey.
 
Behavioral issues can crop up. But many owners said they can be dealt with. If Rosie the bulldog at O'Connell & Goldberg starts barking during a phone call, the office manager quickly lures her away from Goldberg's side. When Buchanan's dog and a staffer's couldn't get along, the boss paid for a trainer to work with both pups and their owners. Peace was restored.
 
Sterling staffer Rosie Brown recalls when Hazel, a co-worker's Swedish Vallhund, couldn't wait for her owner to get out of a meeting. The pooch left a present behind Brown's chair. The next day, Hazel's owner brought a cake for the office. It said, "Sorry I pooped. Love, Hazel."
 
"We all laughed it off," Brown says.
 
Cats also sometimes make themselves at home in workplaces with dogs. When Brandon Scivolette, president of Elite Moving Labor, goes on vacation, his cat boards at the Tampa, Florida-based company. Often, there is at least one dog about.
 
"A cat is a great thing for an office. It goes from office to office to hang out with people," Scivolette says.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
CTC: Why are employees more likely to bring dogs rather than cats?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (42)
  • dylans1-har
    11/15/2016 - 07:30 a.m.

    Why are employees more likely to bring dogs rather than cats. The employees would bring cats instead because the cats don't stay and they will move around. Dogs will stay were they are and not move around like cats. Dogs also can relize when people are stressed. Dogs can also help people and that is why people would rather have a dog in there office.

  • anthonyc1-how
    11/15/2016 - 12:52 p.m.

    I think this is a good idea because if someone is stressed in the office they can be with the pet

  • hayleel-ste
    11/15/2016 - 02:13 p.m.

    Having a pet at work would be good for somebody that owns there own business and works alone, because then they would have some company on times when its not busy. However, they could be dangerous of your customers coming in may have allergies that may cause a drop in the business because then people wont come if they know of the animal being in their with them having allergies.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    11/15/2016 - 02:24 p.m.

    Dogs are a lot more energetic than cats so they can bring up the mood a bit. I would love to have dogs come in to my future work place. They would be a real stress reliever to me.

  • kl-gai
    11/15/2016 - 05:48 p.m.

    I like that the article states how the puppies and dogs are good to come in the building and how they are helping the people work. I wonder if all states could bring in dogs and cats but only one and the president could make it happen.

  • 23cwreyn-
    11/16/2016 - 09:28 a.m.

    I think its cool that they allow pets in the office.It can be comfoting.They need more places like that.0

  • mtaylor-dav
    11/16/2016 - 10:10 a.m.

    This article is about workers bringing there dogs or any type of pet to work. I think this is a good idea because it will increase the productivity and the happiness of the business workers. "At Crescent City Books in New Orleans, the majority of customers are glad to see Isabel, a Maine coon mix cat, and some let her curl up on their laps as they sit reading." Other costumers have different opinions about workers having pets at work. If people are allergic or afraid of the type of animal, that could be a bad thing. "They might take their business elsewhere. So besides paying attention to permission from landlords and laws about having animals where food is being prepared, people need to consider how to accommodate uncomfortable staffers or clients." Even though there are both good and bad reasons for pets at work, I believe they should be allowed in the office, even if they lose costumers.

  • anastasiap-buh
    11/16/2016 - 11:04 a.m.

    I think it is a great thing that some offices let people bring their dogs and cats (if well behaved) after all animals are shown to make some people calmer if say petted or just being there and being cute. I think more offices should open up to this kind of thing!

  • jd-gai
    11/16/2016 - 11:54 a.m.

    It is be a good idea to bring a dog to work but not cats. I wonder if all over the world pets can go to work with you?

  • cm-gai
    11/16/2016 - 07:22 p.m.

    People will most likely pick dogs because they are more friendly.
    Which one will you pick a dog or a cat to bring to you work?

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