Pets at work may help atmosphere but bring their own risks

When a conference call turns tedious, Brent Robertson can still count on getting a smile from watching Gus rolling around on the floor.

The golden retriever is a regular visitor to Fathom, Robertson’s management consulting business in West Hartford, Connecticut. So are Pookie and Ari, dogs owned by two of Robertson’s co-workers.

dogsBeyond the old tradition of a used bookstore or antique shop having a resident cat, some urban delicatessens and bodegas have cats to mitigate any rodent problems. And at some smaller professional businesses with a relaxed culture, it’s becoming more acceptable for employees bring in their pets. Robertson is among business owners who think having animals around boosts morale, improves the work atmosphere and raises productivity.

“Everyone seems to smile and immediately become a little bit happier,” says Barbara Goldberg, CEO of O’Connell & Goldberg, a public relations company based in Hollywood, Florida. Her bulldog, Rosie, is a frequent visitor.

A survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 7 per cent of organizations allow pets in the workplace, though that may not reflect the practices of very small businesses that don’t have HR officers.

At Badger Maps, owner Steve Benson’s Pomeranian mix, Foxy, seems to know when employees of the San Francisco app developer need some comfort.

“They’re very intuitive,” Benson says of dogs. “They have the ability to recognize when someone’s stressed out.”

But not everyone, including employees, customers and visitors, thinks animals belong in an office or a store. For as many customers that may be charmed, some people are allergic or afraid _ and might take their business elsewhere. So besides paying attention to permission from landlords and laws about having animals where food is being prepared, people need to consider how to accommodate uncomfortable staffers or clients.

Rodney Alvarez, a human resources executive at Celtra, a video advertising company, says legal issues to consider include making sure the company’s insurance covers any incidents like biting, and keeping animals well-behaved so they won’t frighten visitors. Some owners say when they interview job candidates, they let them know there are pets around.

Staffers at Celtra’s San Francisco office asked to bring in their pooches. Managers decided that was OK at its four offices, but only if every staffer agreed, Alvarez says. One Boston employee said no, and so there are no dogs in that office.

One regular deliveryman to Fathom is petrified of dogs. Since Gus “is a full contact dog,” Robertson says, “we collect the dogs and put them away in a room so (the deliveryman) can do his thing.”

And at Sterling Communications, seven of the 20 staffers want to bring their dogs into the Los Gatos, California-based office. CEO Marianne O’Connor, who has a German shepherd named Kaya, worked out a schedule that allows two dogs each day. Upholstered furniture may be off limits.

“We push them off gently, and they learn, that’s not for them,” O’Connor says.

When visitors arrive, pups may be placed in a closed office with a water bowl and toy.

At Crescent City Books in New Orleans, the majority of customers are glad to see Isabel, a Maine coon mix cat, and some let her curl up on their laps as they sit reading. “Most with any issues just keep their distance,” manager Michael Zell says.

Most often, a business becomes pet-friendly when it’s the owner who brings an animal in. Anne Buchanan adopted a dog about 12 years ago who turned out to be emotionally needy and much happier when Buchanan was around. So she began taking him to work at her eponymous PR firm in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

As her company grew, staffers asked if they could bring pets in, too. There are generally two dogs in the office, and sometimes as many as four, including Buchanan’s two rescues, Katie and Lacey.

Behavioural issues can crop up, but many owners said they can be dealt with. If Rosie the bulldog at O’Connell & Goldberg starts barking during a phone call, the office manager quickly lures her away from Goldberg’s side. When Buchanan’s dog and a staffer’s couldn’t get along, the boss paid for a trainer to work with both pups and their owners. Peace was restored.

Sterling staffer Rosie Brown recalls when Hazel, a co-worker’s Swedish Vallhund, couldn’t wait for her owner to get out of a meeting and left a present behind Brown’s chair. The next day, Hazel’s owner brought a cake for the office that said, “Sorry I pooped. Love, Hazel.”

“We all laughed it off,” Brown says.

Many people without pets are happy to have co-workers’ animals nearby.

“The dogs just wander around from office to office, say hi to everyone and nobody minds,” says Mike Dunklee, co-owner of Blvd Suites, a corporate housing company based in Oak Park, Michigan. Some staffers without pets keep treats in their desks.

Cats also sometimes make themselves at home in workplaces with dogs. When Brandon Scivolette, president of Elite Moving Labor, goes on vacation, his cat boards at the Tampa, Florida-based company, where there is often at least one dog about.

“A cat is a great thing for an office. It goes from office to office to hang out with people,” Scivolette says.



Raccoon Goes Ballistic on Vancouver Woman

raccoonOriginally reported by Amy Judd of Global News

An East Vancouver woman is recovering after an attack with a raccoon sent her to the hospital. Karee Toft was walking her dog early in the morning on October 17, 2016 when the raccoon pounced. She did her best to fight the animal off, but was left with over 50 puncture wounds. The struggle lasted for over 15 minutes before her cries for help brought some neighbors to the rescue. She was taken to the hospital and immediately given an tetanus shot. Her dog, Indie, was also hurt, but is expected to make a full recovery.

“The raccoon ran and actually jumped on me and knocked me over and attacked me,” said Toft.  “He was in a total frenzy, he didn’t stop. I was holding Indie, our dog, with one hand as far away as I could on the ground.”  “I was trying to kick or get away, or punch the raccoon. He just wouldn’t stop.”

Urban raccoons have become more aggressive lately and experts suggest when walking your dogs try to avoid bushed areas or areas where disgruntled raccoons may reside.



Rabies Can’t Affect MY Pet… Can It?

Rabies Can’t Affect MY Pet… Can It?

GUELPH, ON, Sept. 6, 2016 /CNW/ – In early 2016, when the raccoon strain of rabies was resurfacing in the province of Ontario, members of the public were saying the same thing: I didn’t even know rabies was still a ‘thing’?

Government agencies across Canada have made significant progress in baiting and prevention, that public concern over rabies was virtually non-existent.

With over 150 confirmed cases of rabies in Ontario since December 2015, public concern over rabies has justifiably risen.

“Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system,” says Kristina Cooper, Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT). “Once symptoms show, the virus is almost always fatal.”

It is estimated that one person in the world dies from rabies roughly every nine minutes. (Predominantly in Asia and Africa.)

Cooper, the Provincial Manager of Ontario’s Rabies Response Program (RRP), says that mammals, including animals and people, can contract rabies. This usually occurs when an infected animal bites or scratches a person or other animal.

“There are different strains of rabies,” Cooper explains. “Currently, Ontario is seeing bat, fox and raccoon strains. These strains are not limited, though, in transmission to other species.”

This means that an infected bat, fox or raccoon could infect your cat or dog. Regardless of whether or not your family pet leaves your own backyard, it is important to get your cat or dog vaccinated against rabies.

“Bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes often travel in backyards, unknown to home owners,” says Cooper. “Wildlife encounters can happen quickly resulting in wildlife fights with pets, or pets coming across deceased or injured wildlife, all of which can result in the transmission of rabies.”

Vaccinating against rabies is an easy way to help protect pets against the rabies virus, and in many Canadian cities, it is the law. Cooper explains that for most of Ontario, pet owners are legally required to vaccinate all dogs and cats 12 weeks of age and older against rabies.

“There are rabies vaccines that last one or three years,” say Cooper. “The one year vaccine is due every year. The three year vaccine requires the first vaccine to be ‘boostered’ one year later, and then every three years after that.”

Talk to your veterinary health care team to determine the vaccine schedule that would be best for your pet.

SOURCE Canadian Animal Health Institute

Aviva Canada to launch equine insurance product

Aviva Canada to launch equine insurance product

August 29, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – Aviva Canada is pleased to announce that through their partner, Henry Equestrian Insurance Brokers Ltd. and its well-known and trusted Henry Equestrian Plan (“HEP”), it will be launching in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to provide mortality, medical, and surgical insurance coverage for horses, as well as liability coverage for equestrians.

HEP is now available in Manitoba and Saskatchewan as of today. With the launch of HEP, equine owners in the region now have easy access through their local broker to specialized coverage that meets all of their equestrian insurance needs.

For over 40 years, Henry Equestrian has been designing, managing, and providing insurance expertise for the equestrian industry.

“Whether you ride for pleasure or professionally, HEP offers a wide range of equine coverage tailored to individual needs,” says Daniel Ignoto, Assistant Vice President, Leisure & Lifestyle, Aviva Canada. “We are proud to partner with Henry Equestrian to provide equine insurance for this unique market and continue to protect our customers’ passion for horses.”

“In partnership with Aviva Canada, HEP offers a host of coverage options from full mortality, medical and disability coverage, trailer and equipment protection, to 24/7 claims expert service. HEP will not only fill the gap in insurance coverage for equine owners in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but also provide added benefits by offering custom options to meet their unique needs,” says Dennis Graham, President, Henry Equestrian Insurance Brokers Ltd.

About Aviva Canada
Aviva Canada is one of the leading property and casualty insurance groups in the country providing home, automobile, leisure/lifestyle and business insurance to more than three million customers. A wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc, the company has more than 4,000 employees, 27 locations across Canada and approximately 1,500 independent broker partners.

Aviva Canada invests in positive change through the Aviva Community Fund, Canada’s longest running online community funding competition. Since its inception in 2009, the Aviva Community Fund has awarded $6.5 million to over 222 charities and community groups nationwide.

For more information visit, our blog or our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Media Contact:
Priscilla Wong
Public Relations Specialist
Aviva Canada Inc.
Desk: 416 288 6780
Mobile: 647 208 7523

BC SPCA reminds public not to leave animals in hot cars

BC SPCA reminds public not to leave animals in hot cars


With more than 150 calls about animals in hot vehicles already received by the BC SPCA this year, the animal welfare society is again, reminding people to leave their pets at home if they can’t keep them safe.

“People don’t realize just how quickly their cars can become death traps for their pets – it can take as little as 10 minutes for the vehicle to reach temperatures where the animal can suffer irreparable brain damage or death,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA, noting that the BC SPCA received 1,529 calls about animals in hot vehicles in 2015. “We know that if people are taking their pets with them, it’s because they love them and want to spend time with them, but we really do encourage pet guardians to please, leave their pets at home when they’re going out in the car.”

In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws, which they cannot do in a vehicle that has become an oven, she notes. Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – in some cases just minutes – before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.

Pet guardians should be alert to heatstroke symptoms, which include: exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting), rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place
  • Wet the dog with cool water
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

          “Your dog will be much happier – and safer – at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water,” Chortyk says. “It is such a preventable tragedy.”

If people see a dog in a hot car who they think is in distress, they should call municipal animal control authorities or local law enforcement immediately.

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

Economical Insurance to acquire largest pet insurer in Canada

Economical Mutual Insurance Company, one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurance companies, today announced its intention to acquire Desjardins Group’s pet insurance business, Western Financial Insurance Company (WFIC) and its flagship brand Petsecure.

WFIC is Canada’s largest pet insurance company with net written premiums in 2015 exceeding $50 million. For more than 25 years, it has provided Canadian pet owners with innovative coverage to meet the diverse needs of their pets. WFIC offers comprehensive, veterinarian-recommended coverage for dogs and cats.

“Economical is an insurer with significant momentum right now thanks to our dedicated people, bold strategy, and focus on growth, both organically and by acquisitions,” said Karen Gavan, president and chief executive officer of Economical Insurance. “We are acquiring the market leader in the Canadian pet insurance industry, which will further diversify our business, and we are pleased to welcome WFIC management and employees to the Economical family.”

“For Desjardins, this is the result of an ongoing strategic review of our activities and, as part of this decision, it was important to identify a prospective acquirer that would be in a position to continue growing the business,” said Sylvie Paquette, Desjardins’ Senior Executive Vice President and General Manager of P&C Insurance. “We believe WFIC and its employees will have a promising future under new ownership that will further develop the full potential of the business.”

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals. Following the closing, WFIC will remain headquartered in Winnipeg, ensuring consistency of service in maintaining its industry-leading products, sales force, customer experience and relationships with veterinarians, shelters and breeders. Desjardins will continue to distribute WFIC’s pet insurance product through its Desjardins Insurance and The Personal Insurance brands.

About Economical Insurance
Founded in 1871, Economical Insurance is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with $2.0 billion in premiums during 2015 and $5.3 billion in assets as at March 31, 2016. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical Insurance conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Sonnet, Family Insurance Solutions and Economical Financial.

About WFIC
WFIC is Canada’s oldest and largest pet insurance provider with 25 years of offering innovative pet insurance to Canadian pet parents. Its core brand, Petsecure has unique pet insurance options to choose from that offer comprehensive coverage to pet owners in Canada. Petsecure also offers dental coverage and special coverage including alternative treatments and behavioural therapy. Petsecure is the only pet health insurance provider in Canada to offer their exclusive Secure For Life™ guarantee. Underwritten by WFIC, Petsecure and logo are registered trademarks of WFIC. Petsecure is a member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).

About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets of $255.1 billion. It has been rated one of the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Considered North America’s strongest bank according to Bloomberg News, Desjardins has one of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

For further information, contact:
Doug Maybee
Economical Insurance
(T) 519.570.8249
(C) 519.404.0989

Valérie Lamarre
Desjardins Group
(T) 514.281.7275 or 1.866.866.7000, ext. 5557275 /

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