Milan site opens its doors to dogs at work

In June 2022, our Milan site opened its doors to dogs at work. Since then, our Italian colleagues have been experiencing the benefits of working alongside their four-legged friends.

Meet Sila, our new furry friend. As part of the pilot project Dogs at work, our colleague Annalisa Gentili from Human Pharma Italy has been bringing her dog Sila to the office. “People come to work smiling. Smiling helps you be healthy, productive, and collaborative, and I am glad Sila and I are a part of that.”

Italy welcomes dogs with open arms everywhere. People bring them to restaurants, hotels, and private households; they are part of people’s daily lives. Claire Fowler, former Head of Animal Health Italy, and Morena Sangiovanni, the Italian Country Managing Director, worked with their team on finding a new way of living the human-animal bond in the workspace, too. Studies found that dogs have a positive impact on people, making them happier, more relaxed, and more productive, improving their work-life balance and well-being. This motivated our colleagues to put this initiative into action.

Dogs at work benefits

Dogs@work benefits

Turning an idea into action

This pilot project was only possible in Milan: It is not a production site, and all health and safety guidelines can be easily followed. Furthermore, the new working space is designed to improve collaboration and socialization between our colleagues – and now their dogs. We at Boehringer Ingelheim are not alone as other companies in the building share the same values. In fact, some of them were even frontrunners and provided valuable insights to turn the idea into reality.



Sila and her friends had to prepare before they were allowed to come to the office. She and Annalisa had to take a one-hour exam to demonstrate that Sila would obey any of Annalisa’s command. Proof of the dog's vaccination status and insurance policy was required as well to get their pet certificate, allowing Annalisa to bring her dog into the office. 


Sila, Amelie, DJ, and their other four-legged friends can only be in their "pet-friendly" area in one of the three-floor offices. They have an exclusive elevator and lunch area where they can eat and drink. These measures help control where the dogs are, preventing people with allergies from having contact or people who want to avoid meeting dogs, can do so.

"At the beginning, we considered every possible reaction by our colleagues. Today, we can say that the initiative is appreciated. Of course, some colleagues are not interested and don't have to be. It is a voluntary action," shares Marina Guffanti, AH Communication Manager, Italy. 

Overcoming fears and enjoying the benefits of working alongside animals

Whenever Sila is present, a sign on top of Annalisa’s desk alerts others of her presence to avoid any disturbances. Every time she must leave for a meeting where Sila can't follow, colleagues volunteer as buddies to take care of them in the meantime. In Sila’s case, it is usually Lucia Mascolo, Clinical Trial Start-Up Manager.


Lucia was afraid of dogs. In her childhood, she had a bad encounter that made her fear them terribly. “When this project started, I was sure this would be my opportunity to overcome my fear,” Lucia shares. She trusted her colleagues and, against all odds, their dogs. She trusted in the measures taken by Boehringer Ingelheim, decided to be in the "pet-friendly" area right from the beginning, and even volunteered to be Silas’s buddy. “Getting to know Sila has helped me conquer my fear of dogs!”. The new friends now spend as much time together as possible.

Lucia is only one of many colleagues that have been able to enjoy the benefits of having contact with furry animals. Others have seen the benefits in different ways:


Alessandro Fogliazza, Technical Service Lead, Animal Health

"It is amazing to see our colleagues' collaboration, trust, and respect for each other and their pets. Having my dogs at the office gives me freedom of mindset and helps me connect with my colleagues differently. It allows me to work better and be more efficient. Amelie and DJ awaken emotions in people, creating trust and positively impacting all we do. I couldn’t be happier!  




Stefano Buzzi, Channel Excellence Specialist, Animal Health



“As a non-dog owner, this project allowed me to have fun with my colleagues’ dogs. Petting a dog is the best way to take a break from work!"


What happens next? 

Dogs at work final evaluation graphic

The pilot project was over in December 2022. Lucia and her colleagues were eager to know if Sila and her furry friends could keep coming to the office. A survey was conducted for all our colleagues in Milan to evaluate the positive and negative impact of their well-being and working balance due to the presence of canines at the office. The results were very encouraging.   

Our colleagues benefited from having dogs alongside them at the office. They were satisfied with the initiative, which, most importantly, helped them increase relationships with others. Thanks to the positive results, Sila, Amelie, DJ, and the rest of their furry friends will be able to continue going to the office, as this is now the new way of working in our Milan facilities.