You might have thought people would have avoided taking on a new pet due to personal financial concerns related to COVID-19. However, just the opposite has happened. One of the biggest reasons people previously did not take on a pet, especially a dog, was that they were at work too much of the time to feel like they could properly care for it. But with the pandemic-induced shift to working from home, that impediment dissolved. 

One of my favorite morning newsletters is Fortune's "CEO Daily." In the April 19 issue, Alan Murray kicked it off with the following:

"The proliferation of pets during the pandemic was one way workers eased the stress and loneliness of work from home. But what will happen to those animals when people return to the office?"

That is certainly a question many people, including myself, are asking. My family somehow talked me into a third dog (all English Creams) and we already had a cat, too (yeah, I am a sucker). Fortunately, we do not have any more kids going off to college that we will need to replace with a dog!

But we have enjoyed having them around and being home to be around them. And in the very near future, things may disrupt this little cozy co-worker situation. Many others are also considering what this will mean for them and their new pets! For companies that want to consider a shift from no pets at work, Petco is introducing a new "Playbook and Toolkit" to help employers go pet friendly that may help ease employees into the transition back to work.

A year ago, the demand for pets dramatically increased and has remained strong with many animal rescue and pet agencies seeing a doubling or more of families incorporating pets into their lives. In fact, supply is down so much that most pet fostering organizations now have waiting lists.

There have been numerous articles over the past year about the "pandemic puppies" syndrome, along with numerous Zoom conversations with colleagues and clients joking about this reality! Rover.com shared their research, which showed that nearly half (49%) of Americans said they got a new dog during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, only 13% of those polled said their new pandemic pet is their only animal, compared to 66% who already had a cat or a dog in their home when they brought home an animal over the past year.

What does this mean for global mobility programs? Well, from our client base we know that approximately 20% of clients have pet shipments in their relocation policies. That means that one in five will need to consider how program costs will be impacted going forward if 50% of families will now need to use this benefit. 

Many programs partner with professional pet transport companies who provide a "door-to-door" service that usually would include collecting the pet, ground transportation, boarding for one night, coordinating the health certificate, the flight, meeting at the airport and delivery to the family at their new residence. The cost for shipping a 40 lb. dog in this way from Minneapolis to San Francisco is right around $3,500. To move a cat in the same manner from and to those same locations would cost approximately the same. Change that destination from San Francisco to London and the cost for the dog goes to approximately $5,400, and the cat just under $5,000. 

There are likely to be some additional vet costs to ensure that your pet is allowed to fly. The pet will usually need a proper health assessment and there are likely some specific forms that will need to be signed, especially for international pet shipments. Domestic animals are welcome in most countries but not if they’re bringing diseases with them. The health checks your pet needs are different for each country, but in general, your pet will need to be micro-chipped and have a rabies vaccination. Also, depending on the destination location, there may also be a required number of days for quarantine.

For the other 80% of companies that are not currently offering any pet shipment service, it may be time to consider adding it to your policy since it will now apply to so many more people. These "new animal family members" mean a lot to people, so if you have worked hard to create a program with policies that deliver a great employee experience, then maybe this is your next step. It could be something that differentiates your company from the competition and supports your talent attraction and retention efforts.