“We're the happy department,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, standing in his office and addressing assembled reporters.
For Friday, May 5, Zinke made the decision to invite his employees to bring their dogs along with them to their offices. Citing morale benefits and the opportunity to foster a better work environment, the secretary explained his decision to implement a “Doggy Day,” a first for any federal agency.
The first iteration of “Doggy Day” is part of a pilot program to see if the office could permanently be opened to pets. “Today is our launch,” said Zinke. “We have rules. We looked at some corporations that have dog-friendly environments as a template, and then we had a dog committee.”
If the Department of the Interior's “Doggy Day” transforms from a one-off event into a new department policy, Interior would become the first dog-friendly federal agency. In addition to Friday's test run, the agency has slated another pilot day for the program in September.
Zinke appeared hopeful that the pilot program can evolve into a new department policy allowing employees to bring their dogs to work more often in the future. “We're going to run this and we're gonna do an after action report and see if there are any adjustments that need to be made,” he said.
“People should be happy when they come to work,” said Secretary Zinke. “I don't expect people to cry when they leave at the end of the day, but I kind of expect we're a team.”
Zinke invoked his past military service in the Navy as a member of a SEAL team, as well as his time playing football at the University of Oregon and his childhood as a Boy Scout to drive home his view of the importance of teamwork.
The secretary's commitment to teamwork was on full display on Friday, as he greeted every employee entering his office personally. Speaking about how employees have reacted to the new initiative, Zinke was positive. “They thanked me for doing it, they're happy to have their dogs at work,” he said. “Good morale booster.”
The secretary was also asked if he was concerned about appearing to favor one type of pet over others. “Well, you know, cats come up, turtles, other things,” said Zinke. He quickly dismissed these concerns by explaining that if the pilot program goes well, other pets could be included.
After meeting all of his employees' dogs and gauging their response to the event, Secretary Zinke reflected on the Department of the Interior's first-ever “Doggy Day.”
“Whatever we need to do to create a lively, energetic work environment, I'm going to focus on that,” said Secretary Zinke.