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Should Self-Storage Employees Be Allowed to Bring Their Dog to Work? A Risk-Management Perspective

Some companies allow employees to bring their dogs to work. If it’s something you’re considering for your self-storage business, there are some things you need to know from an insurance and legal perspective. Find out what they are so you can make the right choice.

Scott Zucker

June 30, 2023

3 Min Read
Should Self-Storage Employees Be Allowed to Bring Their Dog to Work?

Reprinted with permission from the May 2023 Legal Monthly Minute.

I love dogs! I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t have one, and I understand the companionship an owner feels for their pet. So, I get it when a self-storage manager wants to bring their “best friend” to work, either for company during the long days or for protection when tenants or visitors decide to misbehave. But should this practice be allowed?

There’s no perfect answer. Legally speaking, the value of having a dog at a self-storage property must be weighed against the risks. Most canines may be docile every day of the year, and yet there can always be one that may suddenly bite a tenant without warning. Certainly, a lot of people love dogs; but there are others who are fearful and may choose to rent somewhere else because a pet is present at the property. On the flip side, your best potential manager may only take the job if they can bring their pooch to work.

Protecting Your Business

If you’re going to allow your self-storage employees to bring a dog to work, there are a few precautions you must take. First, notify your insurance company that there’s a pet on the premises. Your policy may need to be updated or a rider added to address this factual condition and the “added risk” that comes with it. The cost of the additional coverage might vary if the dog is under a certain weight or breed, but failure to secure coverage while allowing pets on the property leaves a self-storage business exposed to potential liability.

Second, send a notice to all your self-storage tenants and visitors that a dog is present at the site. A sign should also be posted on the exterior gate and outside the office door. Though there’s always a chance a customer may elect to rent elsewhere, the notice is important in case a person is allergic to or afraid of dogs and would be surprised or upset if they came into the office and confronted one without notice.

Can a self-storage owner deny their employee the option to bring their pet to work? In general, yes. There are, of course, exceptions that might apply under the Americans With Disabilities Act. But in such a case, the employee can provide the proper documentation to demonstrate the need for the pet.

Otherwise, even if it may not be seen as a popular or pleasant decision, the owner can evaluate the cost vs. benefit and decide to restrict dogs from the facility. At the same time, they may choose to allow the animal, but only after the insurance has been updated and the notices posted.

Scott I. Zucker is a founding partner in the Atlanta law firm of Weissmann Zucker Euster + Katz P.C. Practicing law since 1987, he represents self-storage owners and managers on legal matters including property development, facility construction, lease preparation, employment policies and tenant-claims defense. To reach him, call 404.364.4626, or email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Scott Zucker

Partner, Weissmann Zucker Euster Morochnik & Garber P.C.

Zucker is a partner in the law firm Weissmann Zucker Euster Morochnik & Garber P.C. in Atlanta, which specializes in business litigation with an emphasis on real estate, landlord-tenant and construction law. He’s a frequent speaker at self-storage industry events, author of “Legal Topics in Self Storage: A Sourcebook for Owners and Managers,” and a partner in the Self Storage Legal Network, a subscription-based legal service for storage owners and managers. For more information, e-mail [email protected]; visit www.wzlegal.com.

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