Thursday, June 2, 2016

Take Your Dog to Work Day 2016

In addition to being a lawyer who works with entrepreneurs, I own a retail business called St. Croix Saddlery. At the business, we have a unique but overwhelmingly popular greeter. Her name is Hufflepuff, and she’s a 12-pound Pomeranian ball of fluff (see above). She’s truly good for business, as I’ve seen customers’ buying moods shift from gloomy to gleeful with the wag of a tail, and parents always find more to buy if Hufflepuff entertains the kids! She’s also given us a boost on social media, with staff and customers regularly posting and pinning and tweeting selfies with her. As her owner, I love seeing the joy Hufflepuff brings and receives, but I also enjoy the added benefit and pleasure in being able to bring my dog to work with me.

Dogs can certainly be a positive addition to the right business, and I’m not the only person to recognize this, with dog-friendly work environments popping up everywhere, including Google and Replacements LTD.  At Ben & Jerry’s, in addition to getting three free pints of ice cream a day, you can also bring your pooch to the office.

June 24, 2016 marks the 18th annual “Take Your Dog to Work Day,” which was originally created by Pet Sitters International (PSI) to celebrate dogs as companions and to promote pet adoption.  PSI encourages employer participation as a morale booster and low-cost “pet perk” to employees, as well as a way to garner positive attention.

Along with the favorable rewards, though, there are certain liabilities for businesses to consider as employees ask to bring their four-legged friends to work. Here are some steps a business owner should take in order to celebrate a successful Take Your Dog to Work Day in 2016:
  • If you lease your space, check your lease or talk with your landlord to ensure that pets are allowed, and find out if any deposit or insurance requirements apply.
  • Get your lawyer’s help in drafting a liability agreement, whereby your employee (the dog owner) assumes all responsibility for any damages or injuries the dog may cause, including indemnification (reimbursement) in case you or your business are held liable. You may even want to ask for proof of adequate homeowner’s insurance (potentially with an umbrella policy).
  • Talk with your insurance agent to make sure your own liability policy is adequate to cover you in case an animal on the premises causes damage or injury and you are named in a suit. 
  • Check specific regulations applicable to your business to ensure pets are allowable. For example, in food service and medical industries, there are likely health-related restrictions
  • Create a policy and stick to it. You can address leashes, appropriate “break” areas, off-limits areas, barking and behavior requirements, licensing and vaccinations, among other things. You should also listen to employees who may not want to interact with pets due to fear or allergies, and make it clear that dog owners need to respect their boundaries.
  • Be aware. If you witness any aggressive or unsafe acts by a dog, you will need to send that dog home immediately (as my colleague, fellow entreVIEW author, dog lover, and owner of an American Staffordshire Terrier will tell you, don’t judge a dog solely by its breed). By allowing a dog you know may be dangerous on site, you are opening yourself up to additional liability if anything goes wrong.
This unique “holiday” can be a great way to build employee loyalty and form bonds among your team. It also provides a chance to test the waters for having a permanent dog, like Hufflepuff, in your own business. By taking the steps above and preparing ahead of time, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all!

4 comments :

  1. Great article! Love all of the tips about things to consider before bringing a pet into the office. I hope more people embrace the policy! Hufflepuff is adorable!

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  2. Thanks, Becky! I hope this helps everyone on both sides - employer and employee - understand how much effort goes into making these days run smoothly, but I agree and I hope more people can make dogs "work" at work, too!

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  3. Great read. Never thought about how much prep goes on behind the scenes to make a workplace dog friendly. A other sticking point would be to make sure all dogs are vaccinated and current. The last thing you need is one dog getting others sick.

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  4. Great read. I never thought about all the work that goes into planning a workplace that is dog friendly. Another sticking point might be that all dogs are current on vaccinations. The last thing you would want is sickness spreading.

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