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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Adoption

Help homeless pets by taking dogs to work on June 21

One day occurs every year when even the boss will probably allow - and maybe even urge you - to dog it at work, especially since your decision to do so can help save the lives of millions of homeless pets awaiting adoption in shelters.

That day will take place this year on Friday, June 21, when you and dog owners around the world are being encouraged to bring furry friends to offices and job locations to call attention to the plight of these orphaned dogs.

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The 15th annual Take Your Dog to Work Day gives dog parents the chance to show off the benefits of having a companion in hopes of convincing co-workers to adopt a homeless dog, according to Beth Stultz of Pet Sitters International, the event's sponsor.

"Pet Sitters International hopes that when co-workers without pets witness the human-animal bond firsthand on this day, they will be encouraged to adopt a new best friend of their own," Ms. Stultz told

Pet Sitters International established Take Your Dog To Work Day in 1999 to celebrate the great companionship dogs provide and to encourage their adoptions from local animal shelters, rescue groups and humane societies.

Every person who decides to adopt a pet on Take Your Dog to Work Day can help change some lives, Ms. Stultz said. "There is no question that pet overpopulation and the growing need for pet adoptions is a huge issue across the country. One person adopting one dog certainly makes a difference for that dog who now has a home - and for the person who now has a new best friend."

The event's goal is to make people aware of the plight of homeless animals, Stultz said. "Awareness of the great need for pet adoption is the first step in combating the problem."

The annual event has been growing since its inception in 1999, and many companies outside the United States are now participating, Ms. Stultz said.According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as many as one million dogs and cats in the United States have become homeless because hard economic times and the home foreclosures have forced many cash-strapped pet parents to give up their companions. The surge in the number of pets is becoming so overwhelming that many capacity-filled animal shelters are being forced to use foster care volunteers to temporarily house the homeless pets.

"The state of the economy has made the need for pet adoptions more urgent than ever," Ms. Stultz said. "At the same time, support for adoption campaigns has decreased."Adopting a homeless pet is less expensive than buying one from a pet store, Ms. Stultz said. “As families look to do more with less, adopting a dog is one of the basic, most affordable ways to bring joy to a family.”

Dog ownership is cheaper than most people realize, Stultz said. "According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the annual cost for owning a medium-size dog is around $695. That’s less than a cup of gourmet coffee per day for a year and about the same as a year’s membership at a fitness center."

Owner a pet has many physical and emotional benefits, too, Stultz said. "Dog ownership increases your opportunities for exercise and socialization, decreases stress and promotes an overall healthier lifestyle and better well-being."

Businesses participating in the event will be highlighting the joys of dog ownership in many ways such as holding doggy social hours, best trick contests and costume contests, according to Stultz. Some businesses will have local shelter representatives bring adoptable pets to introduce to employees. 

For businesses like Hitachi Data Systems in Santa Clara, Calif., which as recently named one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For, ” Take Your Dog to Work Day has become an annual event.

“At Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Take Your Dog To Work Day is a fun and very successful event that our employees look forward to every year,” said Hitachi Data Systems’ Chief Human Resources Officer Nancy Long states in a media release.  “Many employees bring their dogs to work and attend the pet fair, week-long raffles, animal health and wellness vendors, and even participate in a talent show.”

"We find that companies that participate in their first Take Your Dog To Work Day celebration enjoy it so much, they tend to participate year after year,” Pet Sitters International President Patti Moran said. “Employees have fun, businesses garner local media attention and most importantly, awareness is raised for pet adoption.” 

Pet Sitters International is also holding an online photo contest to stimulate interest in the event, according to Ms. Stultz. The winner will get $500 in cash and Pet Sitters International will make a $500 donation to an animal shelter of the winner's choice.

The web site also offers advice on choosing a pet that best fits your lifestyle, Ms. Stultz said. "Adopting a pet is a long-term commitment, so it’s important for anyone interested in pet adoption to do the research to determine that the selected pet is the right fit for their home. Breed traits, activity level (of you and the pet), as well as the way the pet interacts with other people and pets in your home are all important factors to consider."

Animal welfare experts are advising dog parents to plan carefully for the day because some pets can get stressed and anxious when their routines and environments are changed.

“When it comes to taking your dog to the office, the key to a safe and successful experience is to prepare yourself and your dog in advance and to recognize potential problem situations before they can happen,” Liam Crowe, a dog behavioral therapist with Bark Busters USA, states in a media release.

Bark Busters suggests dog parents bring these items:
  • Your dog's pillow or blanket and toys so he will have something familiar to comfort him.
  • A leash to walk your dog from the car to the office and to help control him in the office.
  • Food or treats and a water bowl to keep your pet well hydrated.
Bark Busters says dog parents should avoid these situations:
  • Don’t leave your dog alone with other dogs. If you must leave for a meeting, isolate your dog in a closed office or have a dog-familiar friend sit in until you return.
  • Watch for any signs of aggressiveness from other dogs, such as growling, staring, raised hackles and stiff body posture. Defuse potential conflict by removing your dog from the area.
  • Do not try to force unfamiliar dogs to become friends.
  • If a dog scuffle occurs, do not try to break it up by hand because you could get accidentally bitten. Use your dog’s blanket to throw over the heads of the fighting dogs. This will confuse them long enough for you to defuse the situation.
  • Get your supervisor's approval to leave work early if your dog is unable to handle the new environment. Take him home if he becomes stressed, overexcited or inhibited, and do not leave him in your vehicle while you continue to work.

Businesses, shelters and pet lovers can register or learn more about how to participate in Take Your Dog to Work Day by visiting


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