Wayne Pacelle: Let Your Workplace Go to the Dogs


Let Your Workplace Go to the Dogs

Photo by Pete Marovich

When I’m not on the road traveling for work, I get to work chauffeur-style – except I’m the driver, and the backseat space goes to Lily, my beagle mix of uncertain age but very certain place in my heart. When I look back from the rearview mirror, she’s typically gazing out the window, or is curled up in a fox-like pose. I can live with this arrangement because she’s not a backseat driver and definitely not barking orders – there’s just a plain old bark every once in a while.

Lily makes the commute with me because we at The HSUS have a “dogs in the office” policy, and she’s one of about 100 dogs (among other animals) who spend the day at work with their human companions in our Washington, D.C., or Gaithersburg, Md., offices.  In fact, today is Take Your Dog to Work Day®, and that’s as good an occasion as any to tout the benefits of a dogs-in-the-workplace policy.

It’s amazing: on any day, you can walk around at The HSUS, and you don’t hear any barking or see any dogs streaking down the aisles or tussling in the cubicles. They are all so well-behaved. Lily, if I do say so, is exceptionally good. She sleeps in a bed, begs for treats like any self-respecting, food-obsessed beagle, and at various intervals throughout the day she takes walks, sometimes with me and sometimes with her good friend, Andre, a five-pound chihuahua.

The policy is great for the dogs, since they don’t have to sit home alone with the best shock collar strapped on them to make sure they don’t disturb the neighbors and you get a fine in the mail… No, here they get the stimulation of being around other people and pets. And it’s good for our staff, since they save on doggy daycare, and can enjoy the companionship of their best friends at work. Surveys shows that people really enjoy this workplace benefit and are happier and stay longer at work.

Dogs in the workplace policies are becoming popular. Amazon recently instituted a dogs in the workplace policy after Jeff Bezos held a contest for an idea to improve employee morale without raising costs. If more corporations did this, they’d have more satisfied employees and I bet we’d see adoption numbers go up. Many people don’t adopt because they think they are too busy or just don’t want to leave their dogs behind for the entire workday. At The HSUS, we also allow foster dogs in the office, and several staff have been able to start fostering as a result, with the dogs often getting adopted by smitten coworkers.

I’ve become an evangelist for the idea, after my colleague Jennifer Fearing years ago advocated for the concept. If you want materials on proposing this idea to your employer, let us know and we can share resources with you. This kind of policy is not just for companies built around the idea of helping animals.


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