Interior Dept. celebrates first ‘Doggy Day’

Interior Dept. celebrates first ‘Doggy Day’

The Interior Department celebrated its first “Doggy Day” on Friday, letting employees bring their dogs to work with them.

Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeThe Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks BLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument New policy at Interior's in-house watchdog clamps down on interactions with press MORE said the event at Interior’s headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. — which he’s calling a pilot project — is an attempt to boost employee morale and become a more competitive employer.

Zinke, who often brings his own 2-year-old Havanese dog Ragnar to the office, said one of his first priorities since taking charge in February was to make Interior more dog-friendly.

“It does improve morale among a lot of people,” said Zinke, who rode a United States Park Police horse to the building on his first day of work after Senate confirmation.

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“The other thing is, we have to compete for our people. Up front, I want the best people at Interior, and young millennials, they view life and the working environment to be super important, and I want to reflect that a little,” he said.

He and Ragnar posed in Zinke’s office for photos with some of the 87 workers and their pooches who were planning to come into the office that day, from agencies like the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, said dogs can be particularly helpful and important for fellow veterans, which constitute more than 40 percent of Interior’s workforce nationwide.

The former Montana congressman has made waves as one of the key faces in President Trump’s push to increase production of oil, natural gas, coal and other energy sources on the federal land and waters overseen by Interior, whose budget Trump wants to cut by 12 percent.

Zinke is responsible for carrying out executive orders Trump has signed to increase offshore drilling and consider rescinding national monument land protections, as well as a wide-ranging order the president signed to repeal regulations that harm domestic energy production.

But Friday’s event was all bark and no bite.

Zinke and his staff studied private-sector companies that are dog-friendly in planning the day to ensure dogs are healthy and clean and employees without dogs aren’t too bothered.

Interior has at least one more “Doggy Day” on the books, for a date yet to be announced. Zinke didn’t say whether other pets might be allowed someday, but left the door open for cats, turtles and other critters.

He said he’s letting other Interior locations throughout the country organize dog events as they see fit, and he hopes that the lessons from Friday can help other offices and departments that want to try.