Author: Melinda H. South, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney
Rufus, Zynga & Brady are all dogs that were brought to work by their owners. Rufus, a corgi, was the first dog to come to work at Amazon. Zynga, an American bulldog, not only went to work with his owner, but also had the company named after him. Human Movement Management’s president owns Brady, a golden retriever.
Imagine walking into the workplace and seeing dogs roaming the halls. Would this be an exciting sight or absolute terror for you? Animal lovers take their pets with them almost everywhere they go, while others may have had traumatic experiences in the past and cannot be near an animal without feeling some panic.
Some companies that are known for allowing pets in the workplace are Amazon, Google and Etsy. These companies have taken the time to accommodate the needs of the pets, as well as the safety of the employees.
Before implementing a policy allowing dogs or other pets, there are many concerns that should be addressed. It would be beneficial to have a committee organized to study the issues. This committee should be composed of dog owners and non-dog owners. Some of the issues that allowing dogs in the workplace creates are listed below.
- Who bears the responsibility if the dog hurts another employee or a visitor to the business? The owner of the dog may be required to carry insurance that covers this, but if the coverage lapses, then the business owner’s liability insurance may be responsible.
- How will the business handle canine interaction with customers? Will there be a policy in place that requires owners to keep their dogs on a leash in the common areas? A dog’s bad behavior could cause the business to lose customers.
- Is the dog suitable to be in the workplace? Is the dog well trained? Does the dog interact well with other dogs? Is the dog clean? Does the dog have current vaccinations? Will the dog chew on the furniture?
- Finally, consideration must be given to the employees who are allergic to dogs. Consider dog-free zones.
Research has demonstrated that there is value to employees bringing their pets to work. A study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University found employees who brought their dogs to work experienced less stress throughout the day compared to colleagues without pets.  A pet-friendly workplace has also been shown to foster employee collaboration  and reduce U.S. healthcare costs.  Despite these advantages, companies should develop policies, both for the benefit of the employees, and for the safety and well-being of the animals.
About The Author: Melinda South has been a lawyer with Allen & Allen for almost 30 years. She is an experienced legal researcher, assisting in the preparation of firm briefs and legal directives.