Shelter dogs visit Google in new partnership



Two dogs are leaving the Animal Friends shelter Friday to spend part of the work day with two Google employees at the East Liberty office of the multinational technology company. 

The dog-employee matchups mark the official launch of the Animal Friends Google Pets program. 

Staff at the Ohio Township animal shelter will now be taking dogs to the Google office one day each week, spokeswoman Shannon Tremblay said. 

About two dozen Google employees have signed up for the shelter’s training sessions, which prepare them to handle adoptable dogs for office visits that are expected to be about five hours long, Ms. Tremblay said.

Groundwork was laid for Google Pets on Feb. 24 when four adoptable shelter dogs and four well-trained therapy dogs made a two-hour visit to the Google office.

The visiting shelter dogs were Shih Tzu Toby, rat terrier-beagle mix puppy Cooper, beagle Wendy and a small black mixed-breed named Preston. 

“The ‘mutt mob’ visit we had in February was very well received,” said Google spokeswoman Michelle Martin. “The chance to take a break from work and visit with some adoptable shelter dogs and therapy dogs from Animal Friends was a real midday treat for people.”

The Google office in East Liberty “actually is dog friendly as are many Google offices worldwide,” Ms. Martin said. “Several employees do bring their own pets to work with them.

“Google is a place where employees are empowered and encouraged to engage with community service organizations that are meaningful to them,” Ms. Martin said. “Many of our folks are excited to be able to work with Animal Friends and help some shelter dogs get a cage break for a day.

“Not all Google employees work and travel schedules allow for pet ownership,” says the news release from Animal Friends. The Google Pets program gives people “an opportunity to still get much-needed animal companionship.”

When Toby, Cooper, Wendy and Preston entered the Google building on Feb. 24, “almost everybody stopped what they were doing to see us,” Ms. Tremblay said. “There was a smile on every face. They truly embraced us.”

“The dogs were hamming it up, leaning into people,” Ms. Tremblay said. She handled Preston, “who thought everyone was there just to see him. Cooper, the puppy, snuggled with everyone.”

Staff knew the therapy dogs trained in the Animal Friends Therapets program would be perfect for the Google visit, but picking the right shelter dogs was a challenge.

Google Pets need to be friendly dogs that would not be spooked or stressed by the kindness of large numbers of strangers. But they couldn’t be jumping up on people or running throughout the office. Adoption counselors picked just the right dogs, Ms. Tremblay said.

Shelter workers don’t know yet which dogs are visiting Google on Friday. Toby, Cooper and Preston will not be making return visits, because they’ve been adopted, though not by Google employees. Wendy the beagle is not available for adoption because Animal Friends is evaluating her for some health issues.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1953.





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