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ProCare Rx employees are working with their dogs
Canines accompany owners to work for one day
Brittany Lee and her dog, Kingston, sit at her desk Wednesday morning at ProCare Rx during the company’s first take your dog to work day. Kingston seemed a bit nervous in the new surroundings and kept close to Lee.

Every dog has its day, but only some spend that day at work.

Gainesville-based ProCare Rx, a pharmacy benefit management company, had its first “take you dog to work day” last week.

“It’s good for morale,” said Steven Moore, a ProCare Rx employee who requested the special day several months ago. “It’s a good opportunity for people to have camaraderie with each other and help people get to know each other through their animals.”

Moore brought his poodle-Shih Tzu mixed breed named Wylie on Wednesday.

The day is part of the company’s growing wellness program, which aims to combat obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other “lifestyle diseases.” Part of the solution to the problem, according to the company’s wellness coordinator Karen Shockley, is to reduce stress in the workplace and promote a “culture of wellness.”

“Our goal for our employees is to maintain their level of health, and it is a constant conversation here,” she said. “Stress, nutrition and activity are big areas of focus for our program, so we did this to help address stress in the workplace.

“And part of it is just for fun.”

The effort isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. A 2012 study from Virginia Commonwealth University found people who bring their dogs to work experience less stress throughout the day.

Angela Johnson, the company’s human resources supervisor, felt the effect firsthand as she worked in her office with her 12-year-old poodle, Sophie.

“I’m absolutely loving it,” Johnson said. “I’ve never worked for a company that allowed dogs at work before.

“Whenever I get stressed out and I got a lot going, I just look over and see her sweet little face and I instantly calm down and feel better.”

Not everyone was excited about having the animals in the building. A few employees were allergic to animal dander or simply did not want to be around pets. To assuage them, ProCare Rx created “dog free zones” in the break room, company gym and restrooms, and provided employees with separate offices for the next week until the animal dander could be removed.

Some additional logistics challenged organizers of the event. It had to be scheduled on a day when no clients or prospective clients were visiting the office, and ProCare Rx had to make sure the event was done safely. Every dog owner had to provide a current veterinary record to assure the pets were healthy, free of parasites and up to date on any vaccinations. In addition, dogs must be housebroken and have no history of aggressive behavior.

Dog treats and an assistant to help walk the dogs or watch them during meetings were provided as well.

The last concern was the dogs could be a disruption, but Shockley said the day went by without any disruptions.

Pending approval from upper management, Shockley hopes to have similar events every quarter and eventually make it a monthly tradition.

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