11 Pet-Friendly Workplaces
Village GreenTRXPetplanReplacementsOne Call NowThe Squires GroupArc AspicioCronin and CompanyG5AnchorFreeMedia1
For the last 11 years, Detroit-based property management company Village Green allows employees to take a break from working like dogs to work with their dogs as a part of Pet Sitters International’s Take Your Dog to Work Day. Village Green employees pay $25 to bring their dogs to the office and participate in events and an auction throughout the day. All proceeds from the day go toward supporting a local animal shelter, the Animal Placement Bureau. Last year, the company raised over $5,500 and inspired eight employees to adopt pets. This year, they hope to break $6,000.
When Randy Hetrick started his fitness equipment company, TRX, in his garage six years ago, his dog Blueberry joined him every day for work. As the company has grown, that has not changed. Today, a pack of three or four dogs wander each of the company’s four-story San Francisco office. Hetrick lets his employees' dogs loose throughout the building, except in the office’s fourth floor training center. “Nobody wants to be swallowing and sweating in dog hair,” he says. For Hetrick, dogs add humor to the office. “It’s really amusing when some big lumbering beast is lapping up water as you’re getting coffee,” he says. “You can’t help but chuckle.”
Chris and Natasha Ashton saw the need for pet insurance after their cat fell ill and the couple faced major medical bills. In 2003, the Ashtons founded Philadelphia-based Petplan, a pet insurance provider, to give animals the same right to care as their owners. Today, the employees of Petplan not only work for animals but also work with them. On a daily basis, four of five dogs are in their offices, fostering collaboration and camaraderie among employees, while also helping Petplan emphasize it’s mission. “We are a pet health company, not a faceless insurer,” says Chris. “We care about our own pets enough to bring them to the office. And we’ll care about yours, too.”
One would think a china shop would discourage or even prohibit pets from going near their delicate product. But that’s not the case at Replacements, the world’s largest china retailer based near Greensboro, North Carolina. Not only does the company allow their employees to bring well-behaved pets to work everyday, but they also encourage customers to bring pets to the shop. With roughly 70,000 visitors a year, Replacements sees a wide range of animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, pot belly pigs, a duck, a hawk, and even a possum. And, according to public relations manager Lisa Conklin, these animals are less destructive than their owners. “We break things all the time,” says Conklin. “But I’ve never seen a pet break our china.”
One Call Now’s dog-friendly work environment started when CEO Lieb Lurie’s German shepherd Ivy showed up uninvited for work five years ago. When this developed into a pattern, Lurie started bringing Ivy to work everyday, and encouraging his staff to do the same. Now, several dogs, as well as fish, birds, turtles and other caged animals keep their owners company throughout their workday. Troy, Ohio-based One Call Now worked with their third-party human resources service to develop a pet policy within their handbook, but keep things pretty straightforward. “There’s nothing that’s not common sense,” Lurie says of the policy. “So if you have common sense, your pet is welcome.”
When Nancy Squires announces “free range dogs” on the loudspeaker, the employees of The Squires Group, know to hide their sandwiches. Squires’ two Italian greyhounds and other employees’ dogs are a common fixture at the consulting and IT staffing firm’s Annapolis, Maryland, office, and they are known to sneak a sandwich or two. Despite these occasional pillages, Squires keeps the dogs in check, closing them in her office when they become disruptive. “You have to have respect for others at work. It can’t be camp run amok for dogs,” says Squires. “But they’re so much a part of our corporate climate, it would seem odd not to have them.”
IT services and consulting firm Arc Aspicio moved its offices from Virginia to Washington D.C. last year to be closer to their main clients: government agencies. But, their new digs wouldn’t allow Magnum, CEO Lynn Ann Casey’s dog and long-time company mascot, or any other employee pets in the building. So, the company adopted Maggie, a three-foot long stuffed search dog representing Arc Aspicio’s philanthropic work for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, as a new office mascot. “Some companies have a water cooler to gather around,” Casey says. “We have Maggie.” Casey hopes in time her company will grow and be able to afford a new office where both Maggie and Magnum can stay.
Cronin and Company participated in Pet Sitters International’s Take Your Dog to Work Day for the first time in 2010. The full service marketing and communications agency based in Glanstonbury, Connecticut, had a loose dog policy, allowing the occasional dog in the office most often in the summers or on Fridays as long as they were not disruptive. Take Your Dog to Work Day allowed the generally dog-friendly company to expand Cronin and Company’s relationship with their pets. Between 12 and 15 dogs accompanied Cronin and Company’s 57 employees to work last June to enjoy a lunchtime puppy play date, a parent-pet look alike contest, and homemade doggy cookies.
In a town like Bend, Oregon, that throws a pet parade on the Fourth of July, dogs are more than just pets. They’re part of the community. So it makes sense that they play a large role in the city’s company climates, as well. Bend-based marketing software provider G5 promotes a dog-friendly workplace as a part of their mantra of employee freedom. “We allow you do to do what you need to do to thrive,” says CEO Dan Hobin. “If that involved bringing your dog to work, bring your dog to work.”
When it comes to their dog policy, computer security platform provider AnchorFree takes notes from its influential Silicon Valley neighbors like Google and Zynga. “Any day, it’s cool to bring your dog,” says AnchorFree’s CEO and co-founder David Gorodyansky. The 25-person staff lets a variety of pets roam the office, including dogs, a cat who lived in-house for a year while its owners moved, and even a full-fledged, domesticated wolf. “You could tell because it had the eyes of a wolf,” said Gorodyansky. “He was our employee’s pet, so he was welcome.”
Take Your Dog to Work Day was a hard sell for some of the employees at Media1, a human resource consultancy for large corporations in Grand Haven, Michigan. “At our company, we’ve got dog lovers, dog-nostics, and doggie detractors,” explained CEO Chris Willis of her 25-person company. “You have to respect the wishes of all your employees.” The company participated in the day for the first time last year, keeping the event simple and allowing some employees who did not participate have the day off. Their day raised money for a local pet adoption service, Michelle’s Rescue.