WASHINGTON — The Interior Department is going to the dogs. Literally.
In an email to staff Thursday, the new head of the agency said employees would be allowed to bring their four-legged friends to work a few days this summer as part of a pilot program.
In the email, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said employees will be able to bring dogs to work May 5 and Sept. 1 at Interior’s two D.C. headquarters buildings just off the National Mall.
Zinke said the dog-friendly policy is an effort to boost employee morale. An analysis of the best places to work in the federal government by the Partnership for Public Service ranked the department No. 11 in a list of the 18 largest federal agencies.
Zinke, who was confirmed by the Senate earlier this month as President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the agency, also pointed to studies showing dogs in the office can improve productivity and reduce stress levels.
The agency said visiting pups will have to be fully housebroken and vaccinated and have no history of violence. Employees who don’t want to interact with the dogs will have the option to work from home on those days, Zinke said.
Zinke, a former Montana congressman, made the announcement on “National Puppy Day.” In the note to staff, he provided pictures of his own dog, Ragnar, with he and his wife, Lola.
“I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with Ragnar riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola and I went on with the little guy,” Zinke said in the email.
Zinke made headlines earlier this month when he rode a horse through D.C. for his first day on the job.
Zinke said he understands some employees may have concerns about the policy and he’s “all ears.”