Pets in the Home and Office
More pet-friendly housing and workplaces will allow more people to enjoy the human-animal bond.
Imagine wanting a dog but not being able to have one because the home or apartment you rent does not allow pets. That is a sad reality for thousands of people nationwide and an issue that the Pet Leadership Council (PLC) and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) are working to address. This is especially true of the largest pet-owning demographic millennials, many of whom rent. A recent study from realtor.com found that a whopping 75 percent of pet owners would pass up on an otherwise perfect home if it didn't meet their pet’s needs. Younger buyers were even more likely to say no to a home if it didn't meet the needs of their pet (79 percent between the ages of 18 and 34). It doesn't just apply to dogs: the survey also found that pets like fish, birds and reptiles also had a pretty big influence on the house-hunting process. According to the survey, 87 percent of fish owners, 98 percent of reptile owners and 92 percent of rodent owners said their pet’s needs were important or very important during their home search.
Another study by FIREPAW, Inc. sought to determine the factors influencing the availability of pet-friendly rental units. One key hypothesis was that the current shortage of pet-friendly rentals is based on a misperception by rental property owners that renting to tenants with animals is too costly and problem-ridden to justify. The results of this research study demonstrated that for the majority of landlords, offering pet-friendly rentals is not only economically viable, but can actually increase their bottom-line profits. Accommodating pets can attract a large group of potential renters while also bringing positive attention to developers and landlords.
The lack of pet-friendly housing is also one of the leading causes people are forced to surrender their pets to shelters.
While the availability of pet-friendly housing is critical to keeping pets and their owners healthy and happy together, there is also rising demand for and interest in pet-friendly offices. This is again pertinent as employers are working hard to attract and retain a millennial workforce, which we already know values having pets in their lives. Much like those in the housing industry, there is a great opportunity for employers to benefit from pet inclusive workplace policies.
Nationwide, in partnership with HABRI, recently conducted a study that showed pet-friendly companies are more likely to attract, engage and retain employees. Results revealed that 90 percent of employees in pet-friendly workplaces feel highly connected to their company’s mission, fully engaged with their work and willing to recommend their employer to others. In contrast, less than 65 percent of employees in non-pet friendly workplaces made the same claims. Additionally, more than three times as many employees at pet-friendly workplaces report a positive working relationship with their boss and co-workers, significantly more than those in non-pet-friendly environments. Moreover, these employees are more likely to stay with a company long-term. The findings held true even among non-pet owners in both pet-friendly and non-pet-friendly workplaces.
The PLC has made it a priority to expand both pet-friendly housing and pet-friendly workplaces. To build on all this existing data and information, the PLC has conducted its own comprehensive national consumer opinion research and pet-friendly housing study. A master business plan has been developed for this initiative that includes focusing on two pilot markets — Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio. These test cities are designed to serve as models for other cities nationwide. At the same time, HABRI is working with its many supporters to develop programs and research projects to generate awareness and inform policy makers on the importance of accommodating pets in housing and in workplaces. Meeting these objectives will require engaging pet owners, developers, employers, animal welfare advocates and organizations, veterinary schools, chambers of commerce and other key pet community organizations and companies with shared values and goals. We will also be working closely with Mars and their Better Cities for Pets program, which is doing great, impactful work to help communities across the country become more pet-friendly.
Our goal is to expand access to the joys and science-backed benefits of pet ownership in all facets of people’s lives, from where they live to where they work and beyond. We are committed to working towards eliminating key barriers that limit people’s access to companion animals. Through these two important initiatives focused on helping developers, landlords, property management companies and employers adopt good policies that welcome pets, more people and pets will benefit from a healthy, strong human-animal bond. PB
Bob Vetere is president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and chairman of the Pet Leadership Council.