Allowing pets into offices may help pets deal with separation anxiety
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
According to veterinary behaviour studies, twenty to forty percent of dogs experience separation anxiety—an illness caused by dogs becoming hyper-attached to their owners.
Pet adoption skyrocketed during the pandemic to support mental health. BC SPCA received more than 200 puppy adoption applications. Many Vancouverites are joined at the hip with their pandemic pets, doing practically everything together for over a year.
Now that in BC, adults thirty and older are receiving the first dose of the vaccine. Residents can expect a return to a semi-normal routine soon, which means transitioning from working from home back into offices. Although some offices in BC are already dog friendly, for others, dogs are a health hazard.
The welfare of dogs may be affected when their owners leave for eight hours a day, not including commute time. According to veterinary behaviour studies, twenty to forty percent of dogs experience separation anxiety—an illness caused by dogs becoming hyper-attached to their owners. The dog may destroy pillows, avoid food, or inflict injuries out of stress. BC SPCA ensures that separation anxiety is treatable with medications and behaviour therapy. If a pet shows signs of agitation, BC SPCA recommends seeking out support from a veterinarian before returning to the office. Another option is scheduling doggy daycare or using the app Rover to book dog walking and at-home pet sitters.
A Small Business BC article about allowing pets in offices highlights the positive impact of allowing furry friends in the office. The article includes recommendations on how to establish a “pets in work policy.” Steps include surveying employees about their allergies to dander and trauma-related fear of dogs. Employers should also speak with individual dog owners about their dog’s ability to follow instructions, stay obedient, and outline cleaning responsibilities.
Thankfully, many offices in Vancouver are already pet-friendly; this may explain why Vancouver has been voted North America’s most dog-friendly city by dogfriendly.com. A Reddit user reached out to the r/Vancouver community to compile a list of pet-friendly offices. Some on the thread include Aritiza, Portland Hotel Society, WeWork, Arcteryx, and Hootsuite. Grocery delivery service SPUD hosts dog-friendly Fridays where employees can bring their animals into the office. There are a variety of reasons why offices do not allow pets, including legal and cultural issues.
BC Public Health Act states that animals are not allowed where food is served. The exception being guide dogs and service dogs. Employees in the hospitality sector will have to work alongside their dogs to reduce potential separation anxiety when returning to work. PetMate recommends creating a routine, crate training, and taking a dog out for a walk to release pent-up energy before leaving for the commute.
At this moment, most employees continue to work from home. So, the answer to what will happen once pandemic puppies must sit at home alone is still up in the air. There are resources to support pet owners and their furry friends adjust to office life, so owners don’t have to result in giving animals up for adoption.