Dogs in the workplace a growing trend in Sonoma County
This month marks the 21st annual Take Your Dog to Work Day, a fuzzy, four-pawed ritual that falls on June 21.
Get ready for the pooch parade to unleash at the office, accompanied by the pitter-patter of little toenails and the oohhing and the aahhing of colleagues cuddling balls of fluff.
Whether the holiday is a pet project or a pet peeve depends on your relationship to man’s best buddy. But there’s no denying that the workplace is warming up to our four-legged friends.
Some pet owners do not have to wait for June 21 to take their dogs to work. All over Sonoma County, Rovers are riding shotgun with their owners or walking to work with them, then tucking themselves under desks or into cubicles at schools and tutoring centers, corporate offices and co-working spaces.
Despite potential issues involving allergies, injuries and lawsuits — not to mention the distraction factor — local companies that welcome dogs into the safe areas of their facilities report that overall, canine inclusivity has been a boon rather than a boondoggle.
“I find that it helps morale,” said Jim Jacobs, director of Community Giving for Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, where about a third of the 325 workers bring their dog to work on any given day. “When you’re having a bad day … you’ll have a dog come into your office, and it breaks you from the daily work grind. So everybody really likes that aspect.”
At Lagunitas the dog- friendly policy grew out of its founders’ love of animals. They have been part of the company’s brand since the beginning — after all, a dog is on the company logo.
“Our founder Tony Magee and his wife, Carissa, are huge animal people,” Jacobs said. “Back in the day it was a one-room office. There were dogs running around, and sometimes there were more dogs than people.”
At Lagunitas, dogs are allowed in any of the office settings but not the brewery or taproom or production areas. However, the outdoor taproom is both dog-friendly and kid-friendly.
Jacobs, who is charge of community giving, said that Magee was always a quiet philanthropist, giving away beer in the early days when he didn’t have cash.
These days, the company still donates beer, along with “sip and spill” packages for auctions — T-shirts, mugs and posters — and gives out grants as well.
“We probably gave to more than 100 animal nonprofits last year,” Jacobs said. “Here locally, there were 20 to 25.”
Local beneficiaries include nonprofits such as Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County, Pets Lifeline and Forget Me Not Children’s Services. “It’s part of our DNA, it’s what we do,” Jacobs said. “I like to work with the grassroots nonprofits, and know it’s going right back into the community.”
At Sonic in Santa Rosa, employees are also allowed to bring their dogs to work, provided the pooches have current vaccinations; are housebroken; do not bark, nip or bite; and stay on a leash while walking around. About 30 of the more than 500 employees bring their dogs to work every day, with many more pups tagging along on a part-time basis, said Jen Codarre, director of employee engagement at Sonic.