Paws for Mental Health: Andrea Faccio

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In the previous Paws for Mental Health profile, Dr. Julie Spears, the Senior Manager of Clinical Trial at Purina, discussed the profound impact that pets can have on mental health. Further research shows that the presence of animals in the workplace increases employee commitment and career satisfaction and reduces turnover even for employees who do not have a pet.1 Why? Because pet-friendly policies are seen as evidence that an organization prioritizes employee well-being.

Purina is proud to have a pet-friendly workplace that has allows employees to bring their pets to work. “My Bernadoodle, Rio, has been coming to work with me almost every day since he was a puppy! There is something very special about being able to bring him with me that keeps us connected,” notes Andrea Faccio, President & Chief Growth Officer at Purina, and a NextUp member since 2020. “Purina believes that people and pets are better together and understands the positive impact pets can have on our lives, especially on our mental health.”

How does having Rio with you at work add to your well-being & mental health?

There is so much research showing the benefits of having pets in our lives, and it’s something I experience everyday with Rio. On stressful days, he has a way of lightening the mood, and he also gives me a very good excuse to step away from my desk and take a walk or visit one of the dog parks we have on our campus when I need a mental break. Sometimes simply getting away from my desk can change my perspective and lead to new ideas on how to approach a challenge or opportunity at work. I’ve had many good ideas during our walks.

Can you share any memorable or funny anecdotes about how Rio has interacted with your work environment or colleagues?

Absolutely! Rio is the unofficial greeter of our floor, and he loves to play with anyone who comes up to visit. I can always tell when certain people are visiting because of how excited he gets.

Rio also loves to come to the boardroom during meetings, go person by person to be petted, and then move to the middle of the room to chase his tail. No matter what is being discussed, his presence just lifts everyone’s mood, especially during difficult conversations.

What is it about Rio that contributes the most to your overall happiness and sense of well-being? 

Rio is a constant source of love and laughter for me. He’s loyal and funny and always by my side. When I’m having a bad day, he’ll sit on my lap and lay his head on my chest. It’s incredible that he knows how I’m feeling, it is definitely the best cure for any problem.

Tell us about your most cherished memory with your pet? (For example, adoption/gotcha day.)

In 2023, Purina partnered with St. Louis CITY SC, the Major League Soccer team in St Louis, to design and open the first-ever pet-friendly section in an MLS stadium. When we opened Purina Club, Rio was the first dog to experience the space and go to a game. It was a very special moment for me because I’m from Brazil, and it brought together two things that I love in one place: Soccer and dogs. I’ll never forget it!

What is your favorite thing to do with Rio?  

I enjoy all our time together, but I especially love it when Rio wants to be picked up to lay on my chest and put his head next to mine for a few minutes. He’s a 50-pound lapdog!

Stay tuned for more from NextUp’s Paws for Mental Health series, created in partnership with Purina. We’d love to hear from you! Share your story on how your furry friends are PAWSitively impacting your mental health on social media. Be sure to tag @NextUp and use #PawsforMentalHealth!


  1. https://hbr.org/2023/11/research-the-benefits-of-a-pet-friendly-workplace
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