Pets in the workplace: Why we let the HSUS go to the dogs

By on December 7, 2018 with 0 Comments

One of the great benefits of working at the Humane Society of the United States is that staff members can bring their pets to our offices. For me, that means Lilly, my sidekick, can come to work with me. She loves nothing more than visiting colleagues for treats and pats and socializing with the other dogs in our workplace. And I love having her there with me.

We launched our Pets in the Workplace program seven years ago, and there are now more than 100 participating pets, mostly dogs. It is a popular program, to say the least. The dogs don’t have to sit alone at home, and they get to make lots of new friends. Staff members save on doggie daycare, of course, but the real value for them is that they get to enjoy the companionship of their best friends at work. We expanded the program several years ago to also allows foster dogs to come to the office, which often helps them find a home and allows staff to be able to foster dogs in the community if they don’t have their own dog.

On any given day, you’ll find dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds walking our office grounds (on leash), sleeping contentedly inside office cubes by their people as they work, or socializing with other pets.

Kathleen Summers (left), director of outreach and research for the puppy mills campaign, with her dog, Satito, and Meredith Blanchard, public policy coordinator for the puppy mills campaign, with her dog, Kola. Photo by Morgan Miller/The HSUS

Dogs in the workplace programs are increasingly becoming popular around the country. Amazon reported in a blog this year that its employees bring 6,000 dogs in to work each day. A USA Today article, quoting the Society of Humane Resource Management, said eight percent of workplaces in the United States now allow dogs to join their owners in the office — up from five percent in 2013. Several years ago, when choosing new offices, allowing dogs there was a critical element of our selection process and an important component of our lease. Our Washington, D.C. landlord has since received an award for its embrace of pets in the workplace.

If there is anything that distinguishes our program from others of its kind, it is the fact that our pet participants reflect the companion animal issues we work on, and the dedication of our staff to ending animal cruelty, both on a wider scale, through their work, and at a personal level, by adopting individual animals.

There’s Satito, at just five pounds, recently adopted by a member of our Puppy Mills Campaign. When our colleague met Satito during the Spayathon in Puerto Rico, he was living on the streets and near starvation. There’s Nugget, a large, mixed Husky who was adopted by the vice president of our Animal Rescue Team after she helped rescue him from a large-scale cruelty case. There’s Charlie the terrier mix, adopted by another ART member after Hurricane Maria, and three-legged Maximus the mastiff, who was adopted by our deputy manager of animal crimes after being found as a stray. There’s Liam, an American Staffordshire terrier who was hit by a car before being rescued and fostered, and later adopted, by a public policy specialist in our companion animals team. There’s Sunny, a golden retriever-Chihuahua mix, found by a program specialist who works on The Shelter Pet Project, a public service campaign sponsored by the HSUS, Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council. There’s Bella, rescued from a Korean dog meat farm by Humane Society International and adopted by our senior vice president of animal care, rescue and response. There’s Dimitri, a blind sharpei rescued from a puppy mill by HSUS and adopted by a staff member in the Office of the President and CEO. And my own Lilly was a street dog rescue from Trinidad and Tobago where HSI worked locally with a shelter partner.

Each year, we organize an in-house holiday gift exchange for the dogs, and there’s even talk of an ugly sweater contest this year.

Those familiar with the program say that it has been fantastic for the morale of employees because they can take a break for a walk or to play with their dogs during a stressful day. And studies bear this out. Research by the Virginia Commonwealth University showed employees with pets at their workplace showed an 11 percent drop in their stress levels by the end of the workday as compared to a 70 percent spike in stress levels of employees who left their pets at home.

Allowing pets in the workplace has other advantages, besides being good for employee morale. Many people don’t adopt because they think they are too busy or just don’t want to leave their dogs at home alone all day.

Lilly seems already engaged with the holidays this year: we organized an in-house holiday gift exchange for the dogs, and there’s even talk of an ugly sweater contest.

I’m personally encouraged by the success of our program, and about the proliferation of such programs around the country. We’ve helped quite a few businesses implement a pets at work program, and the number of inquiries has increased over the last few years. We’re happy to share resources with you if you are interested in seeing your own workplace go to the dogs. Email us at blog@humanesociety.org for more information.

HSUS, HSI and partners sue U.S. over failure to protect giraffes

By on December 6, 2018 with 0 Comments
HSUS, HSI and partners sue U.S. over failure to protect giraffes

Giraffes are in desperate need of protection. There are fewer giraffes than elephants now in the wild, and if we are to protect these gentle and beautiful animals from going extinct, we need to act fast to keep them out of the sights of trophy . . . 

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A Humane Nation’s top 10 blogs of 2018

By on December 5, 2018 with 0 Comments
A Humane Nation’s top 10 blogs of 2018

This year has seen incredible wins for animals despite a steady onslaught of Congressional threats and agency rollbacks. On the one hand, there have been attempts to roll back protections for wild animals, like native carnivores in Alaska, and attacks on the Endangered Species Act. . . . 

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Historic win in California caps a year of major progress for farm animals

By on December 4, 2018 with 1 Comment
Historic win in California caps a year of major progress for farm animals

The year 2018 was a historic one for farm animals, with California passing the strongest law against farm animal confinement in the world. We successfully campaigned to protect chickens in the meat industry—moving major US companies to adopt comprehensive welfare reforms and spotlighting those lagging . . . 

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Mission complete: President Bush’s dog Sully transitions to new role helping veterans

By on December 3, 2018 with 21 Comments
Mission complete: President Bush’s dog Sully transitions to new role helping veterans

There has been so much to move the spirit over the 48 hours since we learned of the passing of George H.W. Bush, our 41st president. I was deeply touched by “Mission Complete,” the image of Sully the dog, keeping vigil by the late president’s . . . 

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A trophy hunter kills a beloved Yellowstone wolf, even as attacks on wolves in Congress intensify

By on November 30, 2018 with 10 Comments
A trophy hunter kills a beloved Yellowstone wolf, even as attacks on wolves in Congress intensify

The disturbing trophy killing of an iconic wolf from Yellowstone National Park is a grim reminder that American carnivores are under serious threat, with the states they live in doing precious little to protect them and the U.S. House voting just this month to strip . . . 

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Pets for Life lends a helping hand in hurricane-hit Corpus Christi to keep families, pets together

By on November 29, 2018 with 1 Comment
Pets for Life lends a helping hand in hurricane-hit Corpus Christi to keep families, pets together

Our trailblazing program, Pets for Life, is in Corpus Christi, Texas, on a special mission this week: to help launch a program that will bring relief to pets in communities still struggling to recover from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. As it happens, these are . . . 

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On Giving Tuesday, support our work to help animals in crisis

By on November 27, 2018 with 1 Comment
On Giving Tuesday, support our work to help animals in crisis

Some of the most visible and dynamic work at the Humane Society of the United States is carried out by our intrepid Animal Rescue Team. These highly skilled professionals stand ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to bring relief to animals imperiled by natural . . . 

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South Korea closes largest dog slaughterhouse

By on November 26, 2018 with 7 Comments
South Korea closes largest dog slaughterhouse

Last week, South Korean authorities made history by closing down Taepyeong, the country’s largest dog slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse had been the main facility used for the notorious Moran dog meat market for generations, and thousands of dogs were killed there brutally by electrocution each year. . . . 

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Save the orcas of Puget Sound

By on November 21, 2018 with 0 Comments
Save the orcas of Puget Sound

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington convened a task force to recommend steps to save critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. These orcas live in family groups in Puget Sound, and they and their habitat have been under threat for decades. Between the . . . 

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