Dallas employment lawyer and dog-lover Alyson Brown is a firm believer that everything goes better with a canine—including going to work.
Large employers such as Google are allowing their employees to bring well-behaved dogs into the workplace, she said. And even more of them will be trying the practice temporarily on June 22 for the 20th Anniversary of Take Your Dog to Work Day, an event promoted by the Pet Sitters International.
“It’s a fun morale booster. And if you can’t raise salaries, you look at ways to make the workplace more attractive,” said Brown, a partner in Dallas’ Clouse Brown, of the reasons more employers are allowing dogs in the office.
While many law firms are unable to allow pets in the workplace because of lease restrictions in their high-rise office spaces, dogs are becoming a more common site in smaller practices such as family law and personal injury firms, Brown said.
Yet having a beast that craves nothing more than belly rubs as co-counsel is not always the best fit for a law office, she notes.
“If I had a big busy day of clients, I probably wouldn’t bring a dog into the office. Some people are uncomfortable with them,” Brown said. “But if I’m just sitting in the office doing discovery responses, no problem at all.’’
For employers and law firms that are considering allowing their employees to bring dogs to work, Brown suggests that they first establish a comprehensive pet policy that requires employees to:
- Be in complete control of their pet at all times;
- Have documentation showing the pet is up to date on vaccinations;
- Have proof of comprehensive liability insurance covering any potential injury caused by their pet;
- Sign an indemnification agreement requiring them to pay the cost of defending any lawsuit relating to a dog bite; and
- Have a way to transport their pet out of the office in the event of problems.
The bottom line is, both employers and employees should both use their best judgment about whether it’s a good idea to have a dog at the workplace, Brown said.
“On the employer side, just make sure you know your audience and your clientele,” Brown said. “And for the employee, just know your dog and its ability to handle a stressful environment.’’