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
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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 (71)
  • 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?

  • leilabrummel-bak
    11/17/2016 - 08:40 a.m.

    I love the article about the dogs at work they were really cute!

  • ks-gai
    11/17/2016 - 10:01 a.m.

    I think this is a good idea because the dogs will help the workers in the office if their stressed out. My question is the dogs in the offices always there or are they only there some day?










  • logan2-war
    11/17/2016 - 10:19 a.m.

    By bringing in dogs to work spaces it allows the work place to be a calming and stress free place for workers who enjoy pets. The dogs can act as service dogs for anxiety and stress. I believe that dogs should be allowed at the work place.

  • tiffanyh-ste
    11/17/2016 - 12:04 p.m.

    Animals are very understanding. They can sense the way you feel. And if someone is having a rough day maybe seeing a dog will cheer the up so they have a better day. Animals can bring a lot of joy to people.

  • ss-gai
    11/17/2016 - 12:53 p.m.

    If I was working I would love to bring my dog to work with me every day. Also I would keep my dog in my office. My dog would never try to chase any one that try to touch her. Also my dog would look so pretty.

  • hn-gai
    11/17/2016 - 12:55 p.m.

    I think that the employee should take dogs instead cats because dogs just roll over and walk around, but cats just climb on desk and drop stuff and break.Dogs are nice and cute but cat are not cute they are weird.Cats can mess up peoples office wild they are working but dogs don't.

  • hg-gai
    11/17/2016 - 01:10 p.m.

    I think that employees should bring dogs instead of cat.Because dogs can tell if someone is stressed out and make them feel happy.dogs obey what we say and they make great buddies.

  • ericaw-moo
    11/17/2016 - 02:06 p.m.

    I think this was a good idea for someone people can get upset and want to be with there pets. Some people love to spend time with there pets.

  • mackenzieh-moo
    11/17/2016 - 02:10 p.m.

    Employees are more likely to bring dogs rather than cats because dogs are more playful and make you feel happier. Cats are something to be around if your feeling lazy or want to sit around and cuddle up with something. A cat laying on you lap isn't as fun as a dog playing with you or sitting next to you while wagging it's tail

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