Business Casual Goes to the Dogs

ByABC News
July 25, 2006, 5:15 PM

July 25, 2006 — -- If every dog has its day, that day may be now for thousands of dogs around the country, and all they're missing is a paycheck. Many companies have begun allowing employees to bring their pets -- specifically dogs -- to the workplace.

Some businesses find that not only are the dogs happier but so are their employees, who work harder and more productively when dogs are around.

One year ago Sarah Nagle arrived for her job interview at a New York architectural firm and was pleasantly surprised when she opened the door.

"I walked into the building and was greeted almost immediately by Larry, a four-legged regular at the Rockwell Group in Manhattan," she says.

Sarah immediately felt at ease when Larry came running toward her, wagging his tail and looking for a new playmate. She says the encounter offered her a glimpse into the company and its personality.

"I knew this was a place where I wanted to work. It felt like family with having dogs run around," she says.

Others at the company feel similarly toward the dozen or so dogs that frequently visit the office.

"The dogs serve as a stress relief and bring some fun to the long work day," says Richard Veith, an architect with the firm.

Rockwell Group is just one of a growing number of companies that give their employees this privilege. From Silicon Valley to New York City, companies all around the country in a variety of fields have opened their doors to animals. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, a trade group in Greenwich, Conn., recently found that one in five companies allows pets in the workplace.

The American Humane Association recommends that companies let people bring their pets to work at least once a week,

"We believe it is healthier for the employees, it lowers absenteeism and the animals benefit as well," says Bill Torgerson of the Humane Association.

In San Rafael, Calif., the software company Autodesk boasts hundreds of dogs at its headquarters. Human resources manager Denise Harvey estimates that a quarter of the company's 1,500 employees bring their dogs to work with them.

"We have so many it's hard to count," she says.