The Department of Interior just became the first Federal department or agency to go to the dogs.
The Federal government is known for many things. Being dog-friendly is not one of them. That is about to change, however. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has signed an order implementing a trial program known as “Doggy Days in the Interior.” This fulfills a promise he made on his first day in office to make the Interior Department and its agencies more dog-friendly.
On two Fridays in May and September, employees at the Department of Interior will be allowed to bring their pooches to work. “I’m taking action to establish a pilot program for Doggy Days at Interior!” Sec. Zinke wrote in a department email.
“Opening the door each evening and seeing him running at me is one of the highlights of my day,” he continued. “I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with [my dog] Ragnar riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola and I went on with the little guy. But I can tell you it was always better to have him.”
[caption id="attachment_515" align="alignright" width="300"]
Sec. Zinke's dog, Ragnar, playing with an Interior employee.[/caption]
This is the first time that a Federal agency has welcomed dogs into offices. The move cements Zinke’s image as the most visible animal lover in Donald Trump's cabinet. On his first day at work, Secretary Zinke rode to work on a U.S. Park Police horse named Tonto. When he served in Congress, Zinke routinely brought his dog, Ragnar, into his Capitol Hill office.
Secretary Zinke, who is a former Navy SEAL, explained that the primary goal of this new dog policy is to boost agency morale. In 2016’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government
survey, the Department of Interior ranked 11th
out of the 18 largest Federal agencies. Only 61 percent of Interior's 70,000+ employees said they were happy with their jobs. The Department of Interior includes the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and six other departments.
Members of Secretary Zinke’s staff have been meeting with Interior attorneys to work out the specifics of the new policy. Dogs will most likely need to remain leashed and there may be dog size or breed restrictions. The animals will need to be housebroken, vaccinated, and have no history of aggression. Further details will be provided as the Doggy Days at Interior
Any Interior employee uncomfortable around dogs will be accommodated. Zinke concludes in his email that employees who are uncomfortable around dogs or who “would rather not interact with dogs at the workplace” will be allowed to telecommute on these days.