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Close of Business: Animal Kingdom

by Christina Paciolla
When it comes to unusual perks, a pet-friendly office policy is increasingly a favorite among South Jersey businesses. Food industry excepted, some employers are finding allowing pets improves morale and frees workers from having to run home to walk the dog. Best of all, it’s free (except, maybe, for a the occasional carpet cleaning).

Tony & Liz Prusich
Owners, Mid-Atlantic Ortho
West Berlin
Pet: Sydney, black lab
When Tony and Liz Prusich got Sydney (pictured), their black lab, from the shelter, she was shy and suffered from anxiety. She didn’t like when her owners left the house without her. So, the couple decided to bring her to work. “We started to bring her to the office, and now, she loves it,” Liz Prusich says. Sydney still may be a little shy, but she’s made friends with the salespeople, administration and even the UPS deliverymen. “They bring her bones,” Liz Prusich says. “She just sits by the door and waits for trucks and the mailman.”

Lori Colino
Owner, COIT South Jersey
Pets: Chloe & Henry, mixed breeds; Lily, pug
COIT in Somerdale has not just one furry friend who roams around the home office, but three. Chloe, Henry and Lily are like three more employees in the 15-person cleaning company. “It just takes a lot of pressure out of trying to run home for the day,” Colino says, explaining why her pet-friendly policy makes sense. So, when Nicole Robinson, who works in the office with Colino, got her pug puppy Lily, Colino told her to bring her into the office. “It just worked out great,” Colino says. “How can you leave a puppy home all day?” Moreover, Colino says the cuteness-therapy pays off throughout the day, for all of Colino’s technicians. “It’s just more relaxing,” she says.

Janice Doughman
Director, Riverview Estates
Pet: “Riverview” Rosie, mixed breed
Janice Doughman was always a cat person. But two years after she started at Riverview, she thought a dog could be a nice addition. So, she adopted Rosie, and all of Riverview’s senior citizens love her. “They have their kids bring treats in for her,” Doughman said. “I’ll take her to their wheelchair or bedside when they don’t feel well. And they will reach out and pet her head. She’s really, really good.” Dodging wheelchairs and walkers, and knowing which residents have treats for her, has become a specialty of Rosie’s. And when Doughman leaves for work in the morning, Rosie sits by the door, waiting for her leash. “It’s improves the quality of life,” Doughman said. “Many of the residents say it’s my dog. I tell them it’s their dog, too.”

Stacey Blacker
Owner, Red, White & Brew
Mount Holly
Pet: Susie, German shepherd; Mr. Fancy Pants, Akita
Having her two dogs in her Mount Holly wine shop has its pros and cons, says Stacey Blacker. Some people feel it’s warmer when they come in and shop, she says, but other people walk right on by after seeing the two large canines. “I have this theory,” Blacker says. “I don’t trust people who don’t like animals.” Blacker brings her two dogs to work when her husband can’t be home to watch them. She even holds a Yappy Hour on Fridays and serves gourmet dog treats. “It’s nice,” Blacker says. “It makes me happy to have them here.” Mister sits by the front door and people-watches all day long, while Susie will follow customers to the back of the store and sniff them. “I always say they are helping people with their choices,” Blacker adds with a laugh.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 1, Issue 9 (September, 2011).
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