Woman with dog


Walk by Toni Thulen’s office on any given day and you will receive a rousing greeting from Ellie and Abbey, two rambunctiously friendly yellow labs. Toni, Orion ISO’s CFO, has been bringing this rollicking pair to work for the past several years. According to Toni, they’re the perfect officemates. “Neither complains about sharing an office, working late or even coming in on the weekends,” she says. Both lovable hounds will stop whatever important task they may be working on (chewing a rawhide perhaps?) for a quick belly rub.

The offices of Orion ISO and its related companies, including Orion Associates and Morning Star Financial Services have had a pet-friendly at their Golden Valley headquarters since 2007. It’s not just dogs either; a visitor to these fur-friendly offices might also see a cat or two, birds, rabbits and even the occasional guinea pig!

And Orion ISO is not alone in it’s open doggie-door policy. According to a survey from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association 17% of employers in the US currently allow animals in the workplace. Some of these include corporate giants such as Amazon, Google and even some divisions of Proctor & Gamble. Even those companies that don’t allow pets on a regular basis can join in on National Take Your Dog to Work Day, a promotion started by PetSitters International in 1999 to help promote pet rescue. These trends and recent studies make it clear the benefits of allowing pets in the workplace are numerous:

    • Boosted morale – Pets bring joy to their owners. Happy employees equal a happy AND productive workplace.
    • Increased camaraderie – A recent study by researchers at Central Michigan University had participants split into groups and tasked with creating an advertisement and slogan for a fictional product with or without a dog present. Results found that groups with dogs present had higher levels of interpersonal interaction and self-reported team satisfaction.
    • Forced breaks and exercise – Dogs benefit from water and brief exercise throughout the day, and so do their humans!
    • Proven health benefits – A 2012 research study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management reported that on-the-job stress levels fell among a group of Greensboro, N.C., employees when they had their dogs by their side. Conversely, stress levels grew for their co-workers who either left their animals at home or who had no pet at all.
    • Increased employee satisfaction – The same study showed an increase in job satisfaction for both employee pet owners and those they have contact with.

Orion ISO Billing Specialist Amy Richter has seen many of these benefits after beginning to bring her dog Bruiser to work her. Amy says that having Bruiser at the office reminds her that she needs to get up every now and then, and that Bruiser enhances everyone’s mood when he’s in the office. “The more comfortable the office can be for employees, the more productive and positive everyone is,” says Amy. “Being allowed to bring your dog to work is a big reason why I love coming here every day. Not only do I get to do a job that I love, it is laid back and really feels like my other home.”


Of course rules and etiquette must come into play when allowing pets at work. Orion ISO has a specific Pet Policy for employees and their furry co-workers. These include ensuring co-workers give consent in shared workspaces in case of allergy or general fear of animals, and making sure pet owners clean up after their pets both inside and out.

“Our goal is to provide a work environment that is supportive of our employees’ personal lives,” says Stephen Hage, Chief Administrative Officer for Orion ISO and its related companies. “To accomplish that goal, Orion has adopted a number policies regarding an open work environment for both children and pets”.

Undoubtedly these policies were helpful guidelines for Stephen, who was spotted babysitting a rather vocal guinea pig in his office last month.

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