Monday, July 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

No dogs at work. Please.

Please don't bring your dog to work.

No dogs at work. Please.

Please don't bring your dog to work.

Dana Spain's  "One `Great' Idea for Philadelphia" is to make the city more pet friendly by allowing people to bring their pets into work, into restaurants, into stores. In my opinion, that's one BAD idea, especially in the workplace.

I remember going to one workplace (as I often do in this beat) and listening to the owner, dressed casually in a polo shirt (he was also wearing pants!), proudly brag about how relaxed his office was, how people could bring their pets to work. Look, here's my dog, he said.

Well, some people in his office were terrified of that dog. It was big and frightening looking. At least it didn't smell, although many dogs do. Real relaxed workplace. Ha. Later, I heard the dog had died. Good, I thought. Now he won't frighten the people at the office.

If you could, would you bring a pet to work?
Yes
No

Dana Spain, who heads the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, says that pets reduce stress and are ice-breakers, encouraging people to visit and share ideas. Dandy. Our workplaces are super dysfunctional if we need a dog to allow us to feel comfortable talking to our colleagues and bosses.

Also, she explains charmingly, employees won't be worried about having to rush home to take their dogs out for walks and the dogs will be more socialized. Why are these problems that an employer has to solve? Why not solve real problems, like providing sick time so people can stay home with an ailing family member or distributing the proper equipment so people can work safely? I was appalled to go into an office the other day and see clerks cradling phones between their shoulders and the ears. This was in a hospital! Where were the headsets for these workers?   

But there's more. What if the dog smells? What if the dog is annoying? What if someone is allergic to the dog? What if the dog that is smelly, has an annoying bark and expresses his friendliness by jumping on people belongs to the boss? Then what? This is all an unnecessary complication. Doesn't everyone have work to do?

It's all well and good to have a relaxed workplace. Here in the Inquirer newsroom, we have a very relaxed workplace in terms of dress and behavior and I love it. I believe we had a bunny in our suburban newsroom and one of my colleagues raised worms for mulch in our Cherry Hill  office.  Neither was particularly objectionable, my colleague included, and I think the bunny was well-loved. 

As charming as it may be to have pets in the workplace, what matters is respect among workers and managers, fair compensation including pay, benefits and time off,  a reasonable workload and a comfortable safe place to work with proper equipment.

Then doggone it -- have a bring your pet to work DAY and go hog-wild. My felines won't be hurt.  

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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