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Geoffrey McAllister, Deseret News
Mallary Metz of Sandy and her Yorkie mix, Dakota, wait their turn to march in the Pooch Parade.

Survey says ... pet owners consider their pets part of the family.

When CHG Healthcare Services saw the results of a survey of employees indicating how much they love their pets, it decided to do something for them. The company now offers pet insurance and instituted a Take Your Dog to Work Day.

Friday marked the end of CHG's Employee Appreciation Week, in which each day was celebrated with events ranging from Nintendo Wii competitions to free massages.

In honor of the national dog lovers' day Friday, CHG also sponsored a "Pooch Parade" to showcase its employees' best friends. More than 60 dogs were registered for the parade, and employees proudly decked their pups out in ribbons and curls. The canine owners registered each pet in one of three categories: CHG Pride, Executive Look-alike and Movie Star Look-alike. Winners of the costume contest will be announced Monday and will receive prizes ranging from PetCo gift cards to the grand prize of three months of free pet insurance.

Employees' costumed dog ranged from a Playboy Playmate Chihuahua to several attired to resemble the company's CEO, Michael Weinholtz.

Shane Ross and Bonnie Hammond entered their French bulldogs in the CHG Pride category, adorning Hogan and Princy in matching Hawaiian leis. Ross said he is on track with the company's President's Club program to win a trip to Hawaii.

A Lab-hound named Howard was dressed as Snoop Dogg with everything from dreadlocks and bling to boxers and saggy jeans. Tess Johnson, Howard's owner, said that she doesn't currently have health insurance on the dog but now that the company is offering it, "I will have to look at the rates and see."

The pet insurance will be provided by MetLife Pets. An employee owning a 9-year old golden retriever could expect to pay $46 per month. A younger dog with more coverage could cost the employee almost $60 per month.

"Americans are expected to spend $11 billion on veterinary costs this year; in our opinion, many of us have pets that are like members of the family, so don't they deserve coverage, too?" asked Laura Goulding, CHG's public relations specialist.

CHG Healthcare Services was founded in 1979 as a provider of health-care staffing. The company places physicians, nurses and other medical health professionals at various hospitals and organizations throughout the nation.

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