Pet Policies in the office

We have a small company and all work in offices. In the past we have allowed someone to bring their dog in if the animal was recooperating for an illness/injury and no one was available at home to take care of it. We also have an employee who brings his dog in because it makes him feel more productive. Now we are getting requests from other employees to be able to bring their dogs to work.

Does anyone have a pet policy for the workplace they could share? We would like to limit to one pet per day, UTD on shots and not disruptive. Our main concern in liability.

If you do allow pets in the office, what are your restictions?


  • 22 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Our sample policies don't include one on pets in the workplace, but Hillary Collyer, one of the attorneys at DiMuro Ginsberg which writes the Virginia Employment Law Letter, did write an article on pets in the workplace that you can read at [url][/url]
  • Thanks, Wendi. It's a good article.

    plynnl: we don't allow pets so we don't have a policy I can share with you. However, I am a big fan of the Dog Whisperer (among other animal shows), and he has often gone to work places to solve issues. I have noticed several things that seem to work.

    1) all pets are confined to their owner's work area unless otherewise specifically allowed (to and from the work area, breaks, etc)
    2) owners clean up after their pets
    3) absolutely no pet aggression is allowed. Pets who show agression are suspended for a time period (ie. 1 week, 1 month), and most companies have a 3 strikes and you're out policy
    4) pets are not allowed to disturb others by barking, etc
    5) pets are kept on a leash or blocked into the work area

    I would love to be able to bring my pets with me to work, but don't see it happening anytime soon. I hope your situation works out for you. Good luck!

  • I'm sure our Work Comp carrier would be thrilled for us to bring our dogs to the office... they could keep our toddlers company, or even answer our phones while we're busy cleaning our firearms and polishing that chainsaw juggling act for the county fair talent show.

    But let's keep this between us... if our cats find out, they'll be hot!
  • Wendy, I found that article before I wrote the question and printed it out for the company president. I am getting as much info as I can before I present the option to her. We do have a dog here already but others want to start bringing theirs.

    Frank, I am not sure what to make of your answer.
  • I am going to preface my response by saying that I am a "dog lover." I currently have two dogs. And, maybe I am old fashioned (a friend says that we have reached the "old geezer" stage of life); but I just don't think pets are appropriate in the workplace. I won't argue with the positive side of allowing pets (well, dogs anyway) in the workplace; but I see the potential for great liability.

    Annually, our city library uses a conference room in our building to host a local "reptile guy" who brings his snakes and other reptiles for a presentation. We have an employee who is deathly afraid of snakes. She has been very accommodating, and takes a day of leave each year when the snake guy is here. However, we would definitely have an issue if an employee wanted to bring his pet snake to work.

    I believe this topic was posted once before and I mentioned that my last employer promoted a "service dog training program", in which employees were allowed to bring service dog trainees to work. An employee tripped over the dog and filed a workers' compensation claim. As someone pointed out at that time, he just as easily could have tripped on a purse or briefcase, but a pet in the office is just one more obstacle to maneuver around.

    Lastly, if a pet should bite someone, I am sure the deep pockets of the employer would make a better target for a suit than the pet's owner.
  • David:

    Do you ban holiday parties and employee picnics too? How about microwaves and refridgerators? Those are also lawsuit opportunities waiting to happen. If you look around, I am sure you can see tons more, both for items and events that help morale, and those that have a more direct impact on the business bottom line. As with all of them, any extra liability from having pets would have to be weighed against the positive expectations.

    The possibility of an employee tripping is one of the best reasons to keep a pet in a limited area. Of course, when you take it out for walk or bathroom break, you risk problems. Employees quickly adapt though, and usually know how to avoid collisions.

    It seems to me your biggest risk comes from alergies. However, I think each employer has to handle the issue the way they would other alergies. We have banned certain chemicals, like Lysol, to protect a highly alergic employee. If we ever did decide to allow pets, it would be with the understanding that all employees were ok with it, and that all future employees would be well informed before joining our organization.
  • We plan to have a vote of employees. If all are not 100% on board, then we will not pursue the idea. Have also talked with our insurance agent about liability.
  • We don't have a policy on pets in the workplace. People with dogs will sometimes bring their dogs in to visit on a day off or something, and I remember one person bringing their cat in and having it in their office for at least part of a day, but I think in general it would be frowned upon by management if people started bringing in their pets and keeping them here.

    I have a 3.5-month-old puppy and bringing her in would certainly liven up my office. She's at the chewing on everything stage and she particularly loves books and paper and we all know how much paper the HR position seems to generate so she'd be in doggy heaven seeing all the manuals, forms, and files in here. I could use her as my little canine paper shredder!
  • [quote=plynnl;718300]We plan to have a vote of employees. If all are not 100% on board, then we will not pursue the idea. Have also talked with our insurance agent about liability.

    Off topic, but, do you really think creating and initiating policy by public opinion vote is a good precedent to set?
  • In our case we are a very small company and we all get along very well. We also are 100% office. There is no warehouse, retail, or very few people entering our building that are not working here. I think initiating a policy by vote could work. If we were any larger or there was any friction amoung employees, then probably not.

    We would also have the option to revisit our decision if we find it doesn't work out.
  • plynnl's post made me homesick. I used to work for a small company where we all got along very well.
  • Check out the book blog at [URL=""][/URL]. [URL="–-a-practical-guide-to-creating-dog-friendly-workplaces/"]Today's book review is of [I]Dogs at Work – A Practical Guide to Creating Dog-Friendly Workplaces, [/I][/URL]written by Liz Palika and Jennifer Fearing and published by the Humane Society.

    Reviewer Hillary Collyer is very complimentary of the book and its discussion of both the pros and cons of pets in the workplace. She also mentions that the book includes a sample employee survey (the one the Humane Society used when it considered a dogs-at-work policy).

    If you contact Hillary (her contact information is at the bottom of the review), she may have some suggestions for you.

  • I read the review and will check out the book. Thank you all for your input.

    Nevada HR: Our office is very friendly and we all get along, but believe me there have been a few missteps in the past. A lot of our employees are "creative" and they can get a little quirky at times.
  • Don't forget about the Animal Employment Protection Act. If you're unfamiliar with this cutting edge law, go to YouTube and type in "Animal Employment Protection Act."
  • [quote=John Phillips TN;718345]Don't forget about the Animal Employment Protection Act. If you're unfamiliar with this cutting edge law, go to YouTube and type in "Animal Employment Protection Act."[/quote]

    Next thing you are going to tell us is if we are terminated and eligible for unemployment compensation, our pets that were allowed to come to the office will be also. O:)
  • John: The video is cute, even though I have seen it a few times. It would have been better if the people sitting at the table could have been as straight faced as you.

    If I have to start applying COBRA payments to my payroll taxes for pets though, I am going to.... I can't think what I will do, but it won't be pleasant.
  • [quote=John Phillips TN;718345]Don't forget about the Animal Employment Protection Act. If you're unfamiliar with this cutting edge law, go to YouTube and type in "Animal Employment Protection Act."[/quote]

    Okay you got me. I actually thought this was real until I saw the video. We are in now the process of building separate restrooms for the dogs to comply with the law.

  • I think I'll link John's video to a tweet, as an example of Obama's disastrous anti-business policies, just to see if any of the RWNJs (Right Wing Nut Jobs) who troll my Twitter feed take the bait.
  • We do have a policy about not bringing children to the office, but none for pets. It should go without saying that a place of business is not the place to bring your pet unless it is a service animal. Employees and customers have certain expectations when they enter a business. One being, a safe place to conduct business and a safe place to do business. Dog attacks can happen and do happen unexpectedly with no warning.

    I understand Frank's response completely. Pets at work! Not advisable.
  • 2445428: Bah! Humbug!

  • I find that pets in the office calm the employees and keep the stress level down. As for going into other businesses with dogs, I don't mind an office dog and go out of my way to greet the animal which makes everyone more relaxed.
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