Up for adoption, four-legged interns visit Colombian offices as employee wellness experts

In 2021, dog adoptions from Colombia's Fundación Rescátame dropped by more than 80%, just as more adult dogs were being dumped and abandoned. And COVID restrictions meant the rescue organization couldn't host adoption days or fundraisers. Fundación Rescátame enlisted creative agency Geometry and found a solution: Pasantes De Cuatro Patas, or pet internships.

For each intern, Pasantes De Cuatro Patas sets up a LinkedIn profile listing the dog's skills and strengths. Companies sign up for a paid internship, and Pasantes De Cuatro Patas matches them with a suitable dog. Human handlers then bring the pup to the company's office, where the four-legged intern can meet potential adopters and demonstrate their talents as tickle managers and smile experts.

Over 56 brands joined in — including Ford, ScotiaBank, Mastercard and Colgate — and 81 dog interns visited their workplaces. Another 20 companies are on the intern waiting list. Adoption rates went up by 200%, and brand sponsorships brought in much-needed funding for Fundación Rescátame. Meanwhile, Geometry was shortlisted for a 2022 Cannes Lion for the campaign, which launched in late 2021.

 

 

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While Pasantes De Cuatro Patas was conceived to find more dogs a safe home, it turns out humans were helped, too. In a time when employees are reluctant to leave remote work behind, Geometry says employee motivation to be in offices increased from 20% to 67.2% after introducing pet interns — "rescuing dogs from the streets to save humans in offices." That won't surprise dog lovers, or the researchers who demonstrated that simply petting a dog or cat lowers people's cortisol levels.

Expectations for the role of employers in employee wellbeing is growing. JLL's June 2022 Workforce Preferences Barometer reports that 59% of office workers surveyed globally "expect to work in a company that supports their health and wellbeing," now ranked as their second work priority, after quality of life and before salary.

Hiring dogs as employee wellness experts might not be a long-term solution, but those lower cortisol levels and elevated moods could inspire managers to make in-person workplaces worth (flexibly) returning to.

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