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More firms are now offering ‘pawternity’ benefits

Think having a baby is rough? Just try bringing home a new puppy.

All babies need is a couple of diaper changes, a few feedings and a burping session once in a while. But puppies? They need way more attention, particularly if you consider all the playing, the outdoor walks in the rain, the house training, the gnawing on furniture, the chewing of shoes, the non-stop barking and … did I mention the house training?

You know what I’m talking about, puppy-owners. It’s exhausting.

But don’t worry. It’s 2018. The labor market is tight, good employees are in high demand and paid time off, particularly for new parents, is a hot benefit many firms are offering. Now some of these firms are taking this concept one step further and offering the ultimate solution to the ultimate first-world problem: paid time off specifically for new pet owners. It’s called “pawternity” and no, I am not joking.

“We offer maternity and paternity leave, and a pet is another member of the family,” the head of talent acquisition at a data services firm told the Wall Street Journal last month. “We don’t discriminate just because they aren’t human.”

This is not the only firm that provides pet-related benefits. It’s becoming a popular trend. An article in Quartz last week reported on its growing popularity, with some companies offering up to a week of paid time off for new pet owners.

More and more of these firms – particularly in urban areas that attract a younger workforce – are also allowing pets to be brought to be work as well as other perks like pet insurance, time-off for veterinary appointments, pet adoption consulting and even – as I reported previously – pet bereavement leave. “We look at it just as if you had a sick kid,” one business owner in the Journal piece said.

So don’t sniff at these benefits, OK? Animal advocates say the better the transition for a new puppy (the Kennel Club says that its first 16 weeks “goes a long way” to ensure a puppy’s successful acclimation and socialization) the happier its owners. Happy pet owners make happy (and hopefully more productive) employees, right?