Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, pets his dog, Lily, in his office in Gaithersburg. (Bonnie Jo Mount/Washington Post)

Carfax is trying something new at its 700-person office in Centreville: Employees are encouraged to bring their pets to work, any day of the week.

It started with chief executive Dick Raines doing it on his own. When Carfax signed a new lease as part of an office expansion, Raines pushed the company’s landlord at Cushman & Wakefield (also a Top Workplace) to write pets into the company’s lease.

“I would bring my dog Bailey into to the office under a previous lease even though it probably wasn’t kosher, and people would just smile a lot more,” said Raines, who heads a company that provides data on vehicle histories. “It adds another element of casualness to our office.”

Having pets at the office is rare for a company as big as Carfax, but some smaller outfits have been doing it for years. At Reston-based government contractor Ambit Group, a pair of labradoodles named Bailey and Sadie frequently roam the halls. NFM Lending has a rescue cat that lives at the corporate office. At D.C.-based Mark G. Anderson Consultants, an Irish terrier named Miss Bea, a golden retriever named Frisco, a little corgi named Gizmo and a pair of German shorthairs named Cosmo and Gordon prowl the halls each Friday.

Some firms that don’t allow pets on a regular basis find other ways to be pet-friendly. As part of a weekly program at online event services firm Cvent, management brought in several volunteer dogs to help employees take a break and relax.

At District software company TCG, furry pets are not allowed because employees such as founder and chief executive Daniel Turner have allergies. However, the company does keep a pet snake.

Fairfax-based accounting firm Thompson Greenspon forbids pets to avoid triggering employees’ allergies, but management says pet-related emergencies or otherwise are fair game for time off.

“Though we do not allow pets in the office, we still think of ourselves as a very ‘pet-friendly’ company,” says marketing manager Julianna Prince. “The firm understands that pets are a part of your family and may need attention during the week.”

Most workplaces include family members in the health insurance they provide for employees, but some take it a step further and include pets. Decisive Analytics, Cvent, WeddingWire, Carfax and many others include pet insurance as part of their benefits offering.

At Carfax, Raines doesn’t use the pet insurance. But a recent visit to the vet had him wishing he did.

“I got Bailey an MRI recently, and that cost a ton of money, and I wished I had that pet insurance,” he said.

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