Monday, July 4

Many New UK Dog Owners Hoping to Bring Pets to Work as Lockdown Lightens | Dogs

When lockdown restrictions finally began to ease last month, the Kerrie Daly startup won two new team members, Frankie, a prowler, and Rufus, a Labrador puppy. “They give everyone a lot of relief,” says Daly. “Rufus ate the founder’s shoes the other day, which was hilarious.”

When two colleagues said they wanted dogs as they worked more from home, the company made a collective decision about flexible working and accommodating the new pets when it was time for at least a partial return to their small office in Hoxton, east. From london. .

For the past month, the dogs have been coming in once or twice a week, taking part in group calls and putting smiles on everyone’s faces. “For Frankie especially, who is a rescue, he was a bit wary of humans when they first caught him, so getting him used to walking into the office and seeing the same faces is good for him,” says Daly.

Rufus in the office with a bowl of water
Rufus, a labrador puppy.

“I think most companies are now moving towards part-time work from home. So for us, unless in the future we hire someone who is allergic and we have to change our policy, any pet will be welcome. “

The last 16 months have seen an unprecedented boom in pet ownership in the UK, with an estimated 3.2 million households having acquired a pet during that time. But animal welfare organizations have been warning that pets who have never known that nothing but their humans are around all the time could have a hard time adjusting when owners return to the workplace after closing.

A survey of 1,003 employees conducted by in June found that nearly half of respondents (42%) expected to bring their dog to the office, which pet insurance expert Mubina Pirmohamed is not surprising, as “our Pets have gotten used to us working from home and we have gotten used to having them around ”.

Bill Lambert, an animal welfare expert at the Kennel Club, said that as the country opens up, workplaces have a role to play in recognizing that lifestyles and priorities have changed for many people since the beginning of the pandemic, one of whose aspects is the increase in pet ownership.

A survey of 2,001 dog owners conducted by the organization last month found that more than a third of those surveyed (35%) were concerned about leaving their dog at home and how they would cope after spending so much time together during the confinement. . More than one in four (28%) were worried about not being able to give their dog the time and care it needs due to returning to work, and a quarter are worried about not being able to be with their dog all the time. weather. .

“If dogs cannot adapt to their owner’s lifestyle after the pandemic, some will undoubtedly be left ‘home alone’ for too long, resulting in behavioral and well-being problems, or even sadly rehoused or abandoned.” Lambert said. “Dogs are creatures of habit too, and this change could really negatively affect them.”

a dog in the office
Experts say there are workplace considerations before taking steps to allow pets into the office. Photograph: Frank Baron / The Guardian

By being open to being more dog-friendly, companies could help combat “the looming wellness crisis” facing a generation of pandemic pets, Lambert said, helping owners introduce or reintroduce their pet to the “normal” life while preventing a legacy. separation anxiety.

Experts emphasize that there are important considerations for workplaces before taking steps to allow pets into the office, including legal obligations to comply with building rules and concerns about the health and well-being of employees, such as the alergies.

But the benefits of animals for mental health, morale, and stress relief are also widely recognized. “It makes a big difference to have them,” says Roxy Fielding, who works in a dog-friendly office with several fluffy regulars. “You can forget if you’ve had a bad call or something stressful has come up, that takes your mind off things and helps you reassess.”

Her colleague, Stacey, adopted her dog, Truffle, from Romania in January and socialized her as much as possible on walks and on public transportation so she wouldn’t feel anxious in “normal” life. Her old office had closed when the first closing came and never reopened, so Stacey looked for a space in London that was suitable for flexible work and accepted dogs, so that Truffle would not have to stay home alone.

Having Truffle and other dogs, including daschunds Nova and Prudence, in the office has brought the team together. Now they can’t imagine it any other way, Stacey says.

Fielding believes that housing people with pets is easier than some people think, and the ability to bring them to work will appeal to many workers who have reassessed their living situation in the last year.

“Environments are changing and offices are not as simple as they used to be. They are much more homey now, ”he says. “People feel that it is not fair to have to leave their dog at home.”

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