ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
There is a dog on the second floor of our building here. He's NPR's unofficial mascot Nipper the Newshound. He wears an NPR T-shirt. People love him. They take photos with him when they're on a tour of the building, but he's plastic. Imagine the joy he would bring if he were real. Well, more and more companies are allowing real pets at work, and NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports it can actually keep the fur from flying at the office.
YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Charlie loves office work.
The Yorkshire terrier spends much of his day on a cart pushed by Kim Headen who fills orders in the warehouse at Replacements Ltd.
KIM HEADEN: He loves coming to work. He beats me to the door when we pull up in the parking lot. He knows his way in and to go exactly where I sit.
NOGUCHI: Charlie navigates office politics like a champ. Big dogs know not to mess with him, and the humans consider him part of their team. Lisa Conklin handles public relations for Replacements Ltd. which has 400 employees plus about 30 animals that come to work, not including the various visiting fauna.
LISA CONKLIN: So we've had customers bring in a duck, a potbellied pig, a possum.
NOGUCHI: Conklin wants to bring her horse, Azim, to work one day. But consider this - Replacements makes and sells fine dining ware.
CONKLIN: Here's the interesting thing is that we haven't never had a pet break anything here. We've had people, myself included - have broken a number of these delicate pieces, but we have never to our knowledge had a pet break anything.
NOGUCHI: Conklin says the pets-at-work policy costs the company nothing, and staff often say it's their favorite perk. She says it helps with employee retention, too, though, longevity comes with bittersweetness.
CONKLIN: It's oftentimes very emotional because sometimes you see someone come in with a puppy, and you watch that dog go through its life. And then, unfortunately, sometimes we lose them, and it's amazing to see that lifespan of that dog here at work.
NOGUCHI: Studies show pets lower stress hormones, and some show workplaces that allow pets see higher morale and productivity.
RANDOLPH BARKER: They tend to see that the dogs increase the co-worker cooperation and interaction particularly when people would go by and see the dog just to visit.
NOGUCHI: That's a Virginia Commonwealth University management professor named Randolph Barker. I kid you not.
BARKER: You know, we're always teased about that, but I've had that name all my life. And it's legitimate. We didn't change it because of the research.
NOGUCHI: Pet food-maker Purina has long had a pets-at-work policy, one that requires animals to be civil and well-behaved among other things. Kurt Venator is director of veterinary services for Purina. He says it's critical to plan in advance and accommodate co-workers' wishes, including pet allergies and, he says, recognize that the first day on the job might be tough on your pet.
KURT VENATOR: They encounter novel things such as revolving doors or elevators.
NOGUCHI: Now, there are dog people, and then there's Barbara Sobel.
BARBARA SOBEL: I have cat tattoos.
NOGUCHI: Two cats live in the offices at Good Scents, a shop in Cape May, N.J. where she works.
SOBEL: I get greeted every morning. I can bounce ideas off of them on projects (laughter). They don't judge me (laughter).
NOGUCHI: I ask whether a cat allergy ever got in the way of hiring.
SOBEL: You know, what? In all the years I've worked here and everyone who's come through our doors, that's never been a problem.
NOGUCHI: That's not to say problems don't arise. In the case of Buchanan Public Relations outside Philadelphia, Lacey, a Rottweiler mix, was terrorized by Romeo the toy poodle.
NICOLE LASORDA: He had a bit of a Napoleon complex.
NOGUCHI: Assistant Vice President Nicole Lasorda says instead of reneging on the pets-at-work policy, the company's owner Anne Buchanan hired a dog trainer to sort things out. Romeo ceded some territory, and workplace harmony was restored. Lasorda says the pet policy is a big priority. A year ago when the company looked for bigger office space to rent, the policy posed a challenge.
LASORDA: Every place she went when they said no pets, it was off the list. And it just - there were a lot of places that were no pets.
NOGUCHI: Instead, the company bought its own building, and the animals still come to work. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.