Monday, October 20, 2014

Pet's Always Welcome at Work in Baltimore


Pets are welcome in these Baltimore-area workplaces

Best Places to Work

        Oct 16, 2014, 11:00am EDT

Jeanie Stambaugh, president of NFD Inc., plays with Max, her three-year-old black lab.

Associate Editor- Baltimore Business Journal
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For some workers, it’s a dream: to have a dog in the office, a furry and affectionate friend to check in on periodically.
But in some Baltimore offices, it’s a reality. This year we asked if pets were allowed at our Best Places to Work. A handful reported yes, and some even have them around regularly.
Frank M. Harvey, president of F.M. Harvey Construction in Hunt Valley, likes to bring his dog to work.
Claire Cann, F.M. Harvey’s controller, said Harvey’s Newfoundland is “a teddy bear. I’ve never heard the dog bark ever in my entire life. He literally sleeps at Frank’s feet for the most part.”
There’s no formal policy, but other employees at the small operation are allowed to bring their dogs in, too, if Harvey signs off on it. “He would ask if the dog was housebroken, make sure it’s friendly so there are no problems with employees or people coming in and out of the office,” Cann said.
So far only one employee — the owner of a Chesapeake Bay retriever — has taken the company up on the offer. Cann said there’s never been any problems with either dog: no begging, excessive barking or puddles in the office.
One of the dogs comes to the F.M. Harvey office at least once a week, Cann said. “I kind of like having them around. they make the work atmosphere a little bit more casual and friendly.”
Jeanie Stambaugh, president of NFD Inc., an interior design firm in Hunt Valley, also likes having her dog in the office occasionally. So do her employees.
Someone brings their dog to NFD every two weeks or so. The 10-person firm learned a lesson when it had two dogs visit on the same day.
“We do it on a one-dog-at-a-time basis,” Stambaugh said. They were running circles around the collaborative area, chasing each other.”
Stambaugh preapproves new dogs — “I usually want to know if they’re friendly and if they bark a lot” — and she said employees know when they shouldn’t bring them in, like when a big client is expected.
She’s observed that pets in the office make employees have fun. “Dogs will go over to them and cause havoc sometimes, and they’ll laugh about that.
“We did have somebody one time bring their bird,” Stambaugh said. “The bird was sick, so she wanted to bring it in. It was actually in a cage. Then it would talk every once in a while, so that was funny.”
The policy at NFD, like the one at F.M. Harvey, is informal.
At Oak Crest retirement community in Parkville, employees register their dogs through a volunteer program. There has to be policy around it because of the nature of employees’ work at Oak Crest, said public affairs manager Jeff Getek. But “it’s pretty simple policy.” The dogs’ shots need to be current, and a supervisor has to approve. About 20 dogs are registered with the program.
Residents of Oak Crest are also allowed to have pets, but some — especially in the assisted living and skilled nursing neighborhood — can’t maintain a pet anymore, Getek said. For those people, employees’ pets can be a particular delight.
“It’s a remarkable connection that those dogs can make between an employee and a resident,” Getek said. “It really just brings them joy for a day to be able to pet a dog or just to interact. Dogs are such amazing social animals, and I think they really enrich the lives of residents who get to spend some time around them.”
And employees take pride in their dogs. “We really tend to think that dogs are part of our families,” Getek said. “So to be able to show them off once a week or once a month, it’s just another way to connect with people.”