- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2016

An increasing number of U.K. businesses are reportedly offering “paw-ternity” leave for new pet owners. 

According to the New York Post, the U.S. pet-insurance provider Petplan found that nearly 5 percent of new pet owners in the U.K. were offered time off to care for their furry companions.

One of the businesses providing this policy is BitSol Solutions, a small tech-support company in Manchester, England. Owner Greg Buchanan said he allows up to one week of paid leave for new pet owners, Public Radio International reported.

“Obviously we take it on a case-by-case decision,” he said. “If somebody’s asking for time off for a goldfish, no, no — then it’s not quite what we set out for.”

Recently, one of Mr. Buchanan’s engineers took four days of paw-ternity after he adopted a dog from a recently deceased relative.

“Obviously dogs suffer quite a bit with separation anxiety and putting it into a new environment definitely affects it, so that dog needed to be integrated into a new home,” Mr. Buchanan said. “We got a puppy from a rescue home and we realized it needed to be looked after properly, so I took a week off to ensure it was welcomed into the home, and to set boundaries for the dogs. You know, ‘You can’t chew the couch’ and ‘You can’t jump on the television,’ things like that. And it went from there, and my dog is now better for it.”

The U.K. has statutory maternity and paternity leave, and because 60 percent of Brits own some kind of pet, Mr. Buchanan said many are warming to the idea of paid leave.

“You know, we are quite sympathetic to pets in the U.K., we’re a pet-loving country,” Mr. Buchanan told PRI. “If you do give time off for paw-ternity leave, you are limiting the number of people available to you, however, I believe the morale of staff definitely improves and they actually want to work harder for you.”

One of the first companies to introduce the policy was Mars Petcare, which manufactures many leading pet foods, including Whiskas and Pedigree Chum. It allows employees 10 hours paid leave when they buy a new pet and they’re allowed to bring their pets to work with them, The Daily Mirror reported.

The company’s HR director, Kate Menzies, said: “The rise in new pet owners taking paw-ternity leave indicates that people recognise the importance of settling in new pets with the right support and care.

“The early days of a kitten or puppy’s life are a vital part of the pet’s early development — especially for them to become a proper part of the family.”

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