More businesses are going to the dogs

More businesses are going to the dogs

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More and more employees are bringing their pets to work. However, the new trend could spell big trouble for company leaders, if they're not careful.
Currently, more businesses are opening up their doors to employees and their pets, those like Landa Ossman.
She started working at Village Airport Van Shuttle Service in Lady Lake three years ago. Her German Shepherd, Whisper, started one day later.
"[The owner of the company] asked 'What kind is she?'" said Ossman. "A German Shepherd. 'Well, bring her in to work!' So the next day she came to work."
Too bad no one told co-owner Daniel McCarthy, Jr.
"It was like, who's dog is this? And should I be scared?" asked McCarthy, Jr. "But she is our company mascot. She started the whole thing."
Now several pooches and a few felines spend their 9 to 5's within the four walls of the office.
"Last year, my father found a stray dog and brought him in," said McCarthy, Jr. "His name is Andy."
Ossman says because of the pet policy. She's used fewer sick days, and loves going to work. So does Whisper.
"Mondays and Tuesdays she lays around and begs everyone for food," said Ossman.
Company owners are even keeping their four legged company members in mind when they move.
"This is our proposed site that just passed zoning," said McCarthy, Jr. "Out in the back there we're putting in a fenced in area for the dogs to come and play."
A recent survey by the American Pet Products Manufactures Association reports that 17% of all Americans bring their pets to work and 23 percent believe pets should be allowed in the workplace.
That also means 77 percent, such as locals like Sophia Daley, sit on the other side of the doggie door.
"I'm just thinking, why not have offices and workplaces that are friendly for people to bring their kids to work, because daycare expenses in Florida are astronomical," said Daley.
Critics also cite lack of productivity and health issues as reasons not to allow pets in the workplace. Many people are allergic to pet dander.
"We've had some people get hired and then come and say after they've been hired, 'I'm allergic to dogs. I can't work around dogs," said McCarthy, Jr. "We try to put them in the back office as far away from the animals as we can."
FOX 35 called and emailed several state offices, trying to find who regulates the issue. Legal counsel for Legal Zoom Chas Rampenthal told us no one does; policies are up to individual employers.
Still, McCarthy said it's worth it.
"Most of the people seem more relaxed around the animals, said McCarthy, Jr. "We're just very pet friendly here."
Legal experts caution owners to consider making employees, get insurance because business owners could be held liable if the animal injures another employee or customer.
Another thing to keep in mind if you're interested in making your office pet-friendly? Be sure to check your lease. While you may be okay with pets in the office, your landlord may not agree.

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