PETS AT WORK
Question: Now that we are back in the office, my dog is having separation anxiety. Can I bring him to work with me if I keep him in my office?
Answer: While a lot of people enjoy having a dog around, there are several things to think about before starting to bring your dog to work.
- Is another employee allergic to or afraid of dogs? If so, you would have to take precautions to not trigger a medical issue or anxiety. Not only could it become a Workers’ Comp issue, but it could expose the company to additional liability. The same consideration may need to be made if you have visitors such as vendors or customers to the worksite.
- How will your dog respond to the new people and conditions? Dogs that are well-behaved at home can become aggressive or disruptive in new settings. There would be liability if your dog bites someone at work for whatever reason.
- How would he impact your performance? If your dog will not lay down quietly for 8 hours while you work, then you will have to take time to walk, feed, and play with him, reducing your overall productivity.
- Will other employees be allowed to bring their dogs to work? Allowing 1 or 2 may create resentment in those who cannot.
- How would this impact other pets? Employees may want to bring their cats, rabbits, birds, fish, etc. into work and may be disappointed if they are not able to.
With all of these factors, it may be easier to hire a dog walker than to open the flood gates of dogs at work.
One note: An accommodation may need to be made if an employee needs a legitimate support or therapy dog. Since these dogs must be highly trained and certified and are necessary for the employee to live or function, they do not pose the same risks for liability. However, just calling a dog an “emotional support” animal is not sufficient to be a required accommodation. Only with proper documentation of the critical and specialized need for a support animal should one be considered.