Pets in the workplace: Perk or problem?

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- For many companies, it seems "Bring Your Dog to Work Day" is a daily practice. Whether having pets in the workplace is a perk or a problem depends on who you ask.

A tech worker recently posted a series of public tweets, explaining in detail his so-called "unpopular opinion" on pet policies.

He ends his first Tweet with this statement, "Allowing pets in the office is not an inclusive policy."

The thread has since sparked an online dog debate.

Locally, many Bay Area businesses are accommodating pet owners with policies which impact a number of industries.

"At a salon I was working at, clients would always bring their dogs," Emilia Medina told ABC7 News. "It was really common to have their little lap dogs, or even big dogs while they get their hair done."

Medina is now working in the tech industry and has a dog of her own. Her five-month-old Labrador-mix named Loki made it to the office once. However, Medina explained his puppy behavior got the best of him.

"Then I realized that was not going to work out yet," she said.

Others feel pets in the workplace simply don't work. The HBO series Silicon Valley put a humorous twist on the topic.

Character, Richard Hendricks, bends the company's strict "No Dog Policy" and watches things take a turn for the worse.

Santa Clara University Business professor, Jo-Ellen Pozner said what some might call the unpopular opinion of wanting no pets in the workplace, provides real perspective.

She described the issue as another dimension of diversity and inclusion at work.

"Lots of people, many have dog allergies," she said. "Many people have dog phobias or fears, or they just don't want that kind of distraction around them."

On the side of dog owners, Pozner recognized several constraints they might face, and why pet policies are favorable to them.

"It means that they're not distracted, or having to go home, or pay a dog walker," she explained. "They can spend time with their pet, take care of them, and stay in the office for that extra one to seven hours."

Pozner said the dog debate is right on time- when so many are pushing to have frank conversations about wellness in the workplace.

"I think it's difficult to open up the conversation and say, 'this isn't really working for me,' and, 'let's talk about it.' Because it seems like you're pushing back against advancements in the workplace," she continued.

"There are also much bigger fish to fry in this dimension," Pozner added. "Keeping sure that people of different demographic groups or age groups or different social categories are comfortable is probably more important than making sure that dog owners are comfortable."

Pictures and video sent to ABC7 News show many are exercising pet policies.

Videos by employees at a tech company in Downtown San Francisco show many dog owners are exercising pet policy. Videos sent to ABC7 News by PJ Nicolas-Oliva, Taylor Hoover, Will McCalpin, Dom Leventini and Lilli Zinaman show a group of dogs enjoying a day at the office.

Pozner said, much like any issue of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the dog debate offers an opportunity for more conversation.

Adding, "This seems like an unusual one, but it's all part of the same effort."

ABC7 News viewers responded to a poll about whether they were fans of dogs in the workplace. Find those results here.
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