Manatee animal shelter to test pets-in-the-workplace program

October 9, 2012 

I visited some organizations that allow employees to bring their pets to work. I noticed everyone seemed happy their pets were with them. I asked a few of the employees what they thought of being able to bring their pets to work, and they said it was a great thing. No longer did they have to rush home for lunch to let them out or just to make sure everything was all right.

This makes perfect sense. One less thing to worry about -- and having your pet companion at work relieves stress, too.

As you know, we have a downtown adoption center. We are looking into a program we will call "Cats Around Town," which will solicit the downtown area businesses to take one, or more, of our adoption ready cats into their office until it is adopted. The sponsoring business will promote the fact we have many cats for adoption, including the one they have in their office. What better way to promote your pet-friendly business than to foster a cat for the office.

What a way to boost morale and get more work out of the employees. Work would be more satisfying if you had your pet by your side, under your feet, in a chair by your desk or just spread out on the floor. The ability to have your pet at work makes a positive difference.

Stress in the workplace can cause absenteeism, morale issues and job burnout, all of which can lead to declines in productivity. Having pets at work is a very low cost alternative to prevent these issues and show organizational support to employees with pets by allowing them the choice. Employers would simply have to put together some important policies to ensure that only well-behaved and friendly pets be allowed in the workplace. Some of the people I saw with pets in their office had literally set it up like home, with dog and cat beds, toys, food and water bowls and their favorite blankets. This setting serves as a "home away from home" for the pets.

I know we are basically talking about dogs and cats, but what about fish or other small pets? Maybe each employee bringing a pet to work is too much for your office. Having an office dog or cat could be an alternative. Everyone could share the office pet, spoiling the dog or cat and still reducing employee stress.

People visiting the business could also benefit from an office pet while waiting in the lobby or waiting room. The dog or cat could make its rounds for attention and occasionally look for treats. Office pets could be a useful tool in promoting your busi

ness and those employed as being pet friendly, and being pet friendly could be good for business.

If your employer allows your pet to come to work with you, not only will you be more productive, but your stress can be reduced, simply put. Maybe your breaks won't be spent out back smoking cigarettes or hanging around the snack machine. Your break time may be better spent by holding your dog or cat while taking a breather from that intense project you are working on.

Those who do not have pets may be able to share the dogs and cats of their fellow employees. It's possible that those who do not have pets may just be adopting a dog or cat sooner than later. Pets can spark conversations among employees as well, making for a more social environment to work. The more social employees are also helps with a cohesive team-oriented workplace.

If your employer has reservations about bringing pets to work, maybe they could try a "bring your pet to work day" to see how it works. Who knows, it could lead to more.

Pets have proven success for their therapeutic values in rest homes, shelters and even in prisons. Pets have a calming effect in stressful environments. If nothing else, a pet will always listen to you, even when no one else will and they will never judge you.

If you are interested in our "Cats Around Town" program, please contact our office at 941-742-5933, or stop at our downtown adoption center.

Animal Services is also offering "Trick or Treat" specials for the month of October. Our pets will do Tricks for Treats. We have wonderful fur-kids who would love to go home. Stop by the shelter or adoption center and find your fur-ever friend today! All animals adopted will receive a health check, be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, including rabies, microchipped and a license certificate/tag.

Starting today, Manatee County Animal Services is going to be open from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at the downtown Bradenton adoption center, 1002 B Manatee Ave. W. The shift in hours will help increase adoptions by being open later in the evening.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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