An emotional support alligator.

EDMONTON, Alberta – On the heels of responsible pet ownership bylaws being recently enacted in major centres across Alberta – ones that allow citizens to keep a Livestock Emotional Support Animal (LESA) on their property – a new movement among oil and gas workers in remote or site-based operations are demanding emotional support animals be allowed on sites where they can spend up to 6 months at a time, full-time.

For years, the degradation of mental health and wellness has been a serious issue with staff working in remote areas. Separation from families and pets has taken a significant toll on generations of men and women in the oil patch. Now, a growing number of workers are demanding change.

Mark Rehnat, missing his dog, Ruffles

“We just want to be able to bring a loved one with us for support, and to help us hold onto that last bastion of humanity we lose every time we’re on a site.  We’re only asking we be allowed one pet or family member to come with us and help us make it through those dark times.” – Mark Rehnat, Mooncor Daskina Mine Operator

The official request was sent to several large oil and gas operators and also forwarded to 2P News.  The group is asking for each employee or contractor to be allowed 1 dog or cat, hamster, or gold fish, or if they choose, one of their children to be brought to site. Each member of the new program would be wholly responsible for the care and safety of the animal or human they choose to bring, at no added expense to the company.  Most would choose to bring a dog or cat, but some members did feel the a child could also be very supportive to those with allergies or if they simply wanted their kids to see how life was out in the real world. In one case, a worker stationed at an oilsands camp near Fort McMurray applied to bring his emotional support blow up doll, but that request was quickly shot down.

While no official response has been received, one anonymous inside source from the drilling team on the 44th floor of Canada’s 3rd largest oil and gas developer, who has recently acquired 2 other operations, and divested a third, had this to say.

“Not a chance.  If people start to be ‘happy’ on work sites, nothing will get done.  They’ll be all cheery and smiley, nobody will get mad, nobody will yell and scream when things go sideways, and no one will be a leader because they’ll all just be buddies sitting around stroking their cats. You’ll have some dude take a break with fido and a jar of peanut butter and you won’t see him for hours. This ain’t gonna happen on my watch!” – Alix Geesler (not his real name)

2P News supports the addition of pets and family to remote work environments, and have recently allowed all staff to have their pets and family nearby while reporting and editing our publication.


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