Dogs in the Workplace comes to Santa Rosa

By Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette
Buster is ready for his first day of work as part of Santa Rosa Animal Services' Dogs in the Workplace program.

Man's best friend can now become man's best coworker thanks to a new program being offered by Santa Rosa Animal Services.

You may have seen the four-legged variety of friends around airports for the last several years, or you may have encountered them in hospitals and other places where stress levels tend to run higher than normal. It is no secret that communing with animals helps alleviate stress, and put simply, brings joy into the hearts of many.

Look online and see how many animal rescue facilities around the nation are offering, for a small fee, to bring a bunch of puppies to a workplace so that employees may cuddle to their heart’s content. In fact, there is no lack of research that scientifically proves the boost in morale and increased workplace productivity. Just ask anyone suffering with PTSD who has a therapy dog.

One Tail at a Time is a program based in Portland, Oregon, that recognized early on the ability to promote its foster care program by offering to take dogs into workplaces and get potential foster or adoptive parents to commune with them.

To that end, Santa Rosa Animal Services is launching its own Dogs at Work Foster program.

With a face like Archie's, who couldn't feel enthused at work.

“We are always looking for new ways to get our community engaged with our shelter,” said Dora Thomason, shelter director. “Fostering not only gives the animals in the shelter a break from a stressful environment, it also allows them a chance to socialize with humans and meet potential adopters.

“We just came up with the idea (of dogs in the workplace) organically,” she added. “Some local businesses already permit their customers into their shops with their pets and we thought we could build upon that concept.”

The Santa Rosa program will work like this: a dog-friendly local workplace chooses a representative as the point of contact, who fills out the application and agrees to be responsible for the dog when it is not at work.

“The dogs will be matched with their prospective foster parent via disposition, and in fitting with the business owner’s needs,” Thomason said.

Animal Services will provide the workplace point of contact with all of the supplies needed to care for the dog, both at their home and in the workplace, and dogs will be current on all vaccines, spayed/neutered, and healthy.

Dixie is all attentive and ready to learn her new role.

More information is available at their website, www.santarose.fl.gov/animals