Many new dog owners in UK hope to bring pet into work as lockdown eases | Dogs

When the lockdown restrictions finally wore off last month, Kerrie Daly’s startup brought on two new team members, Frankie, a Lurcher, 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 coworkers said they wanted to get dogs because they worked more from home, the company made a joint decision about being flexible and moving the new pets into at least some of their small office when the time came Hoxton, East London, to return.

For a month now, the dogs have been coming once or twice a week, sitting at group calls and putting a smile on everyone’s face. “Especially for Frankie, who is a rescue, he was a bit suspicious of people when they first got him, so it’s good for him to get him used to coming into the office and seeing the same faces,” says Daly.

Rufus, a Labrador puppy.

“I think most companies are now moving towards working part-time from home. So unless we hire someone in the future who has an allergy and we have to change our policies, every pet is welcome. “

In the past 16 months, pet ownership in the UK has seen an unprecedented boom, with an estimated 3.2 million households having purchased pets during that time. However, animal rights groups warn that pets who have never met anything other than their humans could struggle all the time to adapt when owners return to work after lockdown.

A survey of 1,003 employees carried out by Comparethemarket.com in June showed that almost half of the respondents (42%) wanted to take their dog to the office, which does not surprise animal insurance expert Mubina Pirmohamed, since “our pets have got used to us” . work from home and we’ve gotten used to having them around ”.

Bill Lambert, an animal welfare expert for the Kennel Club, said that as the country opens up, jobs need to play a role in realizing that the lifestyles and priorities of many people have changed since the pandemic started with pet ownership.

A survey of 2,001 dog owners conducted by the organization last month found that over a third of respondents (35%) were concerned about leaving their dog at home and how they would handle it after spending so much time together during lockdown had. More than one in four (28%) fear that they will not be able to give their dog the time and care it needs due to a return to work, and a quarter fear that they will not be with their dog all the time.

“If dogs don’t fit into their owner’s lifestyle after the pandemic, some will undoubtedly be left home alone for too long, creating behavioral and welfare concerns, or even sadly moved or abandoned,” Lambert said. “Dogs are creatures of habit too, and this change could have a really negative impact on them.”

Experts say there are workplace considerations before steps are taken to allow pets into the office. Photo: Frank Baron / The Guardian

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

Experts emphasize that there are important workplace considerations before any action is taken to allow pets into the office, including legal obligations to comply with building rules and employee health and health concerns such as allergies.

But the benefits of animals for mental health, morale, and stress relief are also widely recognized. “It makes a huge difference to have them,” says Roxy Fielding, who works in a dog-friendly office with several fluffy patrons. “You can forget if you had a bad call or something stressful happened, it will distract you and help you reevaluate.”

Her colleague Stacey adopted her dog Truffle from Romania in January and socialized her as well as possible on walks and on public transport so that she would not feel anxious in “normal” life. Her old office was closed when it was first locked down and never reopened, so Stacey looked for a place in London that was flexible and dog-friendly so that Truffles wouldn’t have to stay home alone.

Having truffles and other dogs, including dasch and Nova and Prudence, in the office has brought the team closer together. You can’t imagine any other way now, says Stacey.

Fielding believes it is easier to accommodate people with pets than some think, and the opportunity to get them to work will appeal to many workers who have reassessed their living situation over the past year.

“The environments are changing and offices are not as simple as they used to be. They are much more homely now, ”she says. “People don’t think it’s fair to have to leave their dog at home.”