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A First: Dogs will be welcome at the Interior Department

In a recent Washington Post article, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the start of “Doggy Days at Interior,” a program that will launch with test runs at the agency’s Washington headquarters on two Fridays in May and September.  This new policy makes the Interior Department the first federal agency to go dog-friendly.

Zinke said his dog policy’s primary goal is to boost morale at the Interior agency, which includes the National Park Service; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the Bureau of Land Management; and six other departments.

Zinke’s dog is an 18-month-old black and white Havanese dog, named Ragnar, pictured below.

“Opening the door each evening and seeing him [Ragnar] running at me is one of the highlights of my day,” according to Zinke.  “I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with Ragnar riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola and I went on with the little guy.  But I can tell you it was always better to have him.”

The new policy is a first, as it has never been tried in the federal government.  Members of Congress have been bringing their dogs to the U.S. Capitol since the 19th center, but few other taxpayer-funded workplaces have gone dog-friendly.  Private companies, on the other hand, are increasingly promoting their dog-friendliness as an employee perk.

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s dog, Ragnar, is pictured at the Interior Department with a portrait former President Theodore Roosevelt.  (Photo Credit: Tami Heilemann)

 

However, there are obvious concerns about having dogs at the office, which is why the policy is launching slowly as a pilot, officials said.  Zinke’s staff has been consulting with agency attorneys in recent weeks to work out the parameters for the dogs, including whether the dogs will need to be leashed or be limited to a certain size.  It is likely the dogs will need to be fully housebroken, vaccinated, and have no history of aggression.

Other possible complications when dogs are welcomed to the Interior: Fleas, bites, people with allergies, and pets who may, in a new environment, relieve themselves indoors.  Zinke will permit employees to telework who would rather not interact with the dogs at work.

You can view a short video debuting the dog-friendly work program.

The federal government is large employer where we live.  It will be exciting to see if this pilot program catches on with other federal agencies!  (I think that our little Victory would prefer one of us to be home full-time teleworking versus her making trips to the office!)

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