DETROIT — Partridge Creek mall store owners enjoy its dog-friendly policy almost as much as the dog owners who shop there.
"People really enjoy it, it brings more customers in," said Cory Hardy of Bears & Buddies, who often takes his two dogs, a Chihuahua and a puggle, to work with him at the Clinton Township, Mich., establishment.
Today, dogs are welcome at places that were off limits to pets just a few years ago. No one is keeping track of the number of dog-friendly employers, but taking Fido to work and elsewhere appears to be a growing trend.
The Mall at Partridge Creek has been dog friendly since it opened almost five years ago. The concept is so successful that Taubman Centers, which owns the mall, plans to open two more dog-friendly malls, in Utah and Missouri.
Google's Ann Arbor, Mich., office is dog friendly, as are all Google offices. The same is true at Amazon.com's Seattle offices. Dog-friendly stores dot downtown Birmingham, Mich. The companies see it as an employee-friendly move that also is good for business.
Julie Capp, owner of J's Silkscreens in Eastpointe, Mich., takes her lab and lab-mixes to work every day.
"Almost all my customers love them," Capp said. "They give an ambience to the shop as a friendly place."
The trend is fueled by the growing research into the health benefits of pets, said Patricia Olson, chief veterinary adviser for the American Humane Association.
"The research is pretty compelling," Olson said. Pets, she said, provide social capital.
"Social capital brings us pleasure and a feeling of wellness," Olson said. "And that's animals. Even if I don't have one, I may get social capital from having animals in a community."
A Virginia Commonwealth University study published March 30 tested employees at Replacements.com in Greensboro, N.C., to see the effect of dogs on workers. The company has allowed dogs at work for 15 years. Roughly 20 dogs are at the company on any given day.
The employees with dogs said their stress decreased as the workday progressed, said management professor Randolph Barker who headed the study. Those without dogs said their stress increased.
Replacements.com employees both with and without dogs reported a higher level of job satisfaction and employer support than those in dog-free businesses, Barker said. They also found the dogs appeared to increase employee interaction and communication.
"This might provide a low-cost wellness program for people that could provide potentially stress reduction and perhaps increase job satisfaction," Barker said.
Not everyone wants Fido around. Even supporters such as Google acknowledge they have dog-free areas for people who have allergies, who dislike or are afraid of dogs or are not comfortable with dogs.
"There's a balancing act that companies have to go through," Barker said.
A Dogster.com and Simplyhired.com online survey found that 66 percent of dog owners would work longer hours and 32 percent said they would take a pay cut if they could take their pet to work.
The survey found 49 percent would switch jobs to take their pet to work; 70 percent said a dog-friendly work place is an important employee benefit.
On any given day, five or six dogs are in the Farmington Hills, Mich., offices of Marx Layne, a public relations firm.
"It's part of the overall feel we want to create; we want people to feel comfortable when they come to work," said Jennifer Cherry, senior vice president. The company has allowed pets for more than five years. "Pets are our family, they make people relax. Pets make people happy."
There are anywhere from three to five dogs each day at Summit Sports in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., which has allowed employees to bring dogs for about two years.
"I think it's a huge stress-reliever for a lot of people to be able to pet a dog or be greeted by a dog," said Alisa Robison, director of employee morale. "Some of our non-dog owners will take a dog for a walk during the day, just for a little stress relief."
Walking a dog for a few minutes "beats a smoking break," Robison said.
People with pets say they are happier when they can take their pet with them, and many shopping areas find customers like a dog-friendly atmosphere.
Biggby Coffee in downtown Birmingham has a bowl of dog treats near its door so customers can grab a coffee and a treat for their pooch.
"Birmingham is a walking community and dogs are an important part of people's lives," said owner Rose Glendinning. "The dogs definitely know there are dog treats here."
Mikayla Jidas drives from Clarkston to Partridge Creek because she can take her chocolate lab, Benilli, with her.
"It makes me feel better to know that I can take him instead of leaving him home," Jidas said.
"We've always been a family-oriented center and pets are part of family," said mall general manager Steve Berlow. "Perfect strangers, if they each have a dog, it's an immediate conversation."
June 22 is Take Your Dog to Work Day.
Pet Sitters International has sponsored the day since 1999, encouraging employers to allow pets in the workplace for one summer Friday.
The goal is to boost employee morale and promote animal adoption and support for shelters and animal rescue groups.
For information, go to http://www.takeyourdog.com.
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