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Man calls coworker 'unprofessional' because of 'her baby' puppy. AITA?

Man calls coworker 'unprofessional' because of 'her baby' puppy. AITA?

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"AITA for calling my work-teammate unprofessional because of her puppy?"

I (M27) am working towards getting my PhD, so in addition to the other roles I have at the university, I'm leading several projects with a core team of 7 members. Back in late January, one of the ladies on the team went on maternity leave, and then another left for maternity leave as well in early March.

Because of this, our team has been stretched pretty thin. I understand this, so I've been setting less ambitious objectives for our team so the remaining 5 of us are not overwhelmed. In late February, the newest member of the lab, Chole (F27), took in a 5-week-old puppy (Bean).

Chole joined the lab back in December (she needs to research for her master's degree). Before she joined, I'd known her for almost 4 years. Here's where the problem is. Since getting Bean, Chole has been consistently coming late to meetings, missing her deadlines, and leaving early. I've been having to take extra time after hours to ensure that she's in the loop. Chole says all this is because of Bean and how much work he requires, since according to her, "he's a baby."

Chole seems to have taken offense with the fact that the two ladies have been given maternity leave while she didn't get time off for her dog. It's a whole thing with her that since she's childfree and all, but I won't get into it. About 2 weeks ago, Chole asked me if it was ok for her to bring Bean to the office since according to her, "he gets upset and fussy when he's alone."

Since the school doesn't have a policy forbidding this and nobody else on the team objected, I allowed it. The dog has been ridiculous here. It constantly barks and whines, has made a mess on the floor more than once, but the worst thing is that it starts peeing when it sees me (or other people) and tries to run over to them while peeing. It has a crate, but whenever it whines constantly in it if it isn't sleeping.

Once he's out of the crate, he acts like he's in the Olympics or something. Running around in all directions trying to take the shoes off my feet, etc. Chole has been doing less work as she spends so much time feeding, cleaning, or trying to persuade Bean to sleep. One of the professors noticed this as well, and he told me to give her a warning before the situation got out of hand.

I did (on Tuesday). I told her that keeping Bean in the office was untenable and that she'd need to find some alternative. She protested, but I insisted, and she seemed very upset with this. Wednesday, Chole didn't come in since she didn't want to leave Bean alone.

Today she only showed up for a bit and then headed out. I didn't bother speaking with her, and just a few hours ago, after work, she called me and said I was being an ahole for not advocating for her and Bean. I've decided not to escalate this since she is clearly under a lot of stress, but I did tell her that she was being unprofessional and needed to pull up her socks before her supervisor got involved. AITA?

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

matrixx17 said:

NTA - I mean he’s a workplace hazard. he runs around, pees everywhere. Is likely very distracting too. with the missing members and her not really being there, I doubt the projects are going far.

BionicKumquat said:

NTA- This seems like wholly a problem of maturity and not understanding that University research is just like any other job in terms of workplace expectations and not a place you can good about like in undergrad.

It is wild to me she likened it to needing maternity leave to take care of a puppy. While i can understand bringing a well-trained dog to work if you have prior approval the puppy is a biohazard and a major distraction that you shouldn’t need to add as an extra load just because they’re incapable of taking care of it.

Fredsundertheblanket said:

NTA yet. You do need to escalate it, though. That dog's presence is entirely inappropriate given the behavior. Even service animals, who have all sorts of legal protections, can be refused if they behave inappropriately. And there's something deeply disturbing to me about a woman who thinks her puppy is the equivalent of a human baby.

(Everyone is going to be furious at me for saying that, but I say it as someone who has always had multiple animals at the same time -- and I mean like 10 cats with 3 dogs and parrots and other birds and snakes all at once.) Human babies and animals aren't the same, even though you love them both.

esme454 said:

NTA. It doesn't sound like you said anything terribly rude. It IS unprofessional to bring a pet into the workplace, if for no other reason than people have allergies to pet dander. Some people can manage it.

A lady I worked with in a backwoods public defender office frequently brought a kitten in to work when one of her 30+ cats had a litter, but she kept them in her office under her supervision, so none of them did any damage beyond distracting us with cuteness. I can't imagine a shared workspace -- let alone a LAB -- with an unrestrained, unsupervised pet. I don't know why your university doesn't have a no-pets-in-the-f***ing-lab rule, but it definitely needs one.

It sounds like this woman is dealing with something other than the dog. Where the dog will be when you're at work is a question you ask yourself before you adopt an untrained whirlwind of dog. If you don't already, make sure all employees are aware of options for counseling through the school.

Additional_Jaguar_76 said:

NTA. It’s a puppy, not a baby. She can be child-free all she wants, but that doesn’t make her dog more of a human. No one needs to be “advocating” for her dog to turn a research center into a doggy daycare - minus the professionals trained to care for dogs. This is the real world. She’s about to learn a real world lesson when the world doesn’t bend to her delusions and she loses out on her masters because she couldn’t handle her life and a dog responsibly.

rizzo1987 said:

NTA. Look, puppies are adorable, but this is a lab! It’s a safety hazard having a hyper puppy underfoot, peeing everywhere and the constant whining is distracting. In a perfect world everyone could get paid to play with adorable puppies all day, but that’s not reality. The work is important to your future, and it’s not just hers she’s risking by putting your project behind schedule.

If she’s that worried about leaving the puppy alone she can pay someone to take care of it while she’s meant to be working. It sounds like she seriously needs to get her priorities straight before she screws her own future over, and she’s being a bit selfish risking the future of the others.

Also, equating getting a new puppy to maternity leave is…..something. I dare her to share that opinion with the new mothers when they return from their very deserved maternity leave. You know, if Chole hasn’t been given the boot by then.

Everyone was on OP's side for this one. What's your advice for this workplace drama?

Sources: Reddit
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