Employees in Madison’s City-County Building can now bring their dogs to work

February 5, 2019 GMT

You could start seeing dogs roaming the halls of Madison’s City-County Building.

Madison city and Dane County employees who work in the Downtown Madison building will soon be able to bring their dogs with them to work after a joint city-county committee approved the policy on a 4-3 vote Monday evening.

Deputy Madison Mayor Enis Ragland said the change was proposed because dogs in public spaces or work settings has become more common.

“Dogs have become welcomed as part of our lives in society,” he said.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin requested the policy change, Ragland said.

The new rule doesn’t apply to members of the public with business in the building, although service animals and those in training were already allowed.

It’s unclear when the policy will take effect.

The policy change follows a survey in which more than 54 percent of the 529 city employees who responded said they supported the change. About 35 percent said they disagreed with the proposal.

In hundreds of comments with the survey, city employees who favored the policy said dogs decreased employee stress in pet-friendly places where they had previously worked or they knew friends who worked in a dog-friendly business with positive experiences.

Others said the presence of dogs boosted morale or would increase city employee retention by making Madison a more attractive employer.

But others opposed to the new rule said having dogs around would decrease productivity, worsen allergies for some and increase anxiety for those who fear dogs, among other concerns.

Under the policy, owners who want to bring their dogs to work must be approved by the city or county. Dogs in public areas with their owners must be kept on a leash.

Dogs in the building can’t be left alone, must be housebroken, well behaved, free of fleas and meet Madison’s license and vaccination requirements, according to the policy.

The City-County Building joins an increasing number of workplaces that allow dogs to accompany employees. According to a 2016 Society for Human Resource Management survey, 7 percent of employers allowed pets, up from 4 percent in 2014.

Ragland said the new policy is “a privilege and not a right.”

“Dog owners and offices must meet strict criteria before a dog will be allowed,” he said. “The rights that protect the health and welfare of individual employees are paramount. The office must also provide a safe environment for the animals.”