The Food Bank of Delaware recently became a pet-friendly workplace, and CEO Patricia Beebe is encouraging other businesses to join the ranks.
“I’ve always felt that we should enjoy our work, we’re here a lot. We should be feeling like we’re really making a contribution and we should also feel like it’s a place that we really cherish and enjoy being,” Beebe said.
A recent study found employees at pet-friendly workplaces are not only less stressed, they’re also happier and more productive on the job.
“For me it’s been interesting because I see another side of people that I’ve worked with for years,” Beebe said.
But Beebe’s decision to let Spot come to work, wasn’t based on her employees’ happiness.
“The impetus is totally adoption,” she said.
As if trying to feed healthy foods to the more than 120,000 Delawareans in need isn’t hard enough, Beebe is also trying to help all of the animals in Delaware shelters get adopted.
“I really wanted us to be able to offer something to all these animals that are in shelters, and are abused and just don’t have homes.”
How it all began
A conversation with Larry Haas, the nonprofit’s director of development, is what gave Beebe the idea to let her employees bring their pets to the office.
“Patricia said, ‘Hey, you’re a family, you got young kids, you probably should think about getting this dog soon,'” Haas said. “I voiced my concerns and said, ‘The barriers are, we don’t have time right now,’ and she said, ‘Let me eliminate that, let’s talk about bringing a dog here.”
And that’s how the nonprofit became pet-friendly a little over a year ago, when Haas brought in the newest member of his family, Max.
“It was really a group decision here at the Food Bank because it takes a lot of people to watch a dog when you’re working full-time,” Haas said.
“Pretty soon other people started thinking, ‘Well, gee maybe I should adopt a dog,’ or, ‘Maybe it would be good for, you know, my dog to come in and socialize with other dogs,’ and before you knew it, we ended up just having a lot of dogs here,” Beebe said.
But not everyone loved the idea, at least not at first. Communications Director Kim Turner thought having dogs running around at work would be distracting.
“I’m like the cranky old lady of the Food Bank about the dogs,” Turner said. “But then Larry’s dog Max started coming on a regular basis and it really changed my opinion on having a dog,” Turner said.
It certainly did. Turner is mommy to Paco, who is now one of the doggie regulars at the Food Bank.
“If Max hadn’t started coming here, we would probably not have a dog,” Turner said. “Bringing the dog to work has been very helpful for us. If we want to go out in the evening, and leave Paco at home, we’re like, ‘Well he’s been running around at work all day,’ so we don’t feel as guilty leaving him by himself.”
Turner’s change of heart is what makes Beebe think if more workplaces became pet-friendly, then even more animals in shelters would be rescued.
“I’m really encouraging people who run organizations to consider how they could accommodate animals within the workplace,” Beebe said. “Anybody that knows me knows that I am all about making sure we get the job done. So if in any way I felt this detracted from our ability to do what we need to do 24/7, I would have been the first one to not say this is something we should do.”
Beebe said going pet-friendly is very simple; you just need to have people who are committed to their pets and bring in whatever they might need while they’re at work.
Some other Delaware businesses that are pet-friendly include all of the local animal shelters, Kelly’s Logan House, Klondike Kate’s and the Sheraton South on I-95. The list, for now, is small, but growing.
In the Food Bank’s case, its dogs are only permitted in office spaces to maintain food safety regulations.