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Work Has Gone to the Dogs

More companies are discovering the benefits of letting employees bring animals to the office

Pinot considers herself top dog at Replacements, Ltd., a 500-employee retailer of china, crystal and silver in Greensboro, N.C. Mind you, she is a cocker spaniel, but her doggie diva attitude has more to do with her file cabinet perch, the perfect spot to supervise the company's call-center employees.

From corporate campuses to the halls of Congress, an ever-growing number of establishments have adopted year-round "pets welcome" policies. "Animals can create a great connection between co-workers," says Jeanine Falcon, vice president of human resources at Replacements. She notes that pets can lower stress among employees and boost morale. "For any business, that's a powerful tool, as well as an employee benefit, that comes at little or no cost."

Pinot's owner, Ross Howell, 60, says the company's policy (which allows well-behaved dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and even iguanas) was a definite perk when he came on board as a marketing coordinator three years ago. The duo's daily routine rarely wavers. As they head to Howell's work area, Pinot pauses to flirt with Jack Russell terriers Cody and Rowdy. Before settling in, Howell fetches Pinot a bowl of ice — remember, she’s a diva — accompanied by half a biscuit. Then Howell hefts her onto a pink bunny-patterned pillow atop his file cabinet, her favorite stuffed penguin close by.

The company's pet policy extends not only to its offices and warehouse, but also to the busy public showroom. Before cracking any bulldog-in-a-china-shop jokes, note that no animal has caused any breakage, which is more than you can say for their two-legged counterparts (Howell broke a piece his second week on the job).

Replacements' pet-friendly policy isn't unique. Capitol Hill has been going to the dogs for decades. Charlie Martel, counsel to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, says canines are the norm in both the Senate and the House. Martel, 50, often brings Shantih to work, noting the bipartisan husky will wander into any meeting, Democratic or Republican, as long as the room has a good view of the Hart Senate Office Building's sky-lit atrium and five-story Alexander Calder mobile.

In Elk Grove, Calif., Bob, a gray rescue cat, resides full time at engineering consulting firm Development Impact, Inc., and enjoys meet-and-greets with Chihuahuas Lola and Gigi. At Howard Stross' Florida law office, miniature schnauzer Sadie is vice president of public relations. "Some of my clients come in stressed out, and before long she's on their lap," says the 64-year-old attorney. "She's so popular even the delivery guys ask for her."

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