Companies Offer Paid Pet Bereavement Leave to Employees

PHOTO:Erica Lee, a Trupanion employee, lost her pitbull last year and was able to take a paid day off. Erica Lee
Erica Lee, a Trupanion employee, lost her pitbull last year and was able to take a paid day off.

When Erica Lee's 10-year-old pit bull named Chief died, she and her son spent the day at home mourning his loss.

Lee was able to take a paid leave day thanks to her benefits package at her company, Trupanion, a pet insurance provider based in Seattle.

"It hurt. It made us feel empty. Part of our family was missing," Lee, 28, said of losing Chief.

Lee said she took advantage of her company's pet policy, mainly due to her 7-year-old son, King.

"[My son] was 6 when [Chief] passed away and they were best friends. And he was just heartbroken. Everyone was heartbroken," she told ABC News. "I couldn't imagine having to send him back to school the day after he lost his best friend. He's an only child. They went everywhere together."

"I thought it was very beneficial for him to have time to process. And it really helped me, as well, to know that I was able to take care of myself and my family and not have to worry about...my job," Lee added.

Lee is one of many U.S. employees whose companies now offer paid leave when a furry member of their family dies. Along with Trupanion, Kimpton Hotels offers paid pet leave up to three days for both salaried and hourly employees.

Other companies don't necessarily have a pet bereavement policy in place, but they can offer flexible alternatives to employees who are mourning the loss of a pet.

PHOTO:Erica Lee was able to mourn the loss of her pitbull thanks to paid leave. Erica Lee
PHOTO:Erica Lee was able to mourn the loss of her pitbull thanks to paid leave.

Software company VMware allows salaried employees to take as many days off to "unwind, unplug, and take care of themselves and their loves ones," which can be used for pet loss, a rep told ABC News.

Also, Mars Incorporated, which owns pet nutrition company Mars Petcare, offers a paid day off for those who lost a pet, and "in some units, we also offer pet-ernity leaves" for those who acquired a new pet, the company told ABC News.

A representative for ice cream company Ben & Jerry's said that although the company doesn't have an official policy, "if an employee needed a few days off for bereavement, it would be granted."

The same goes for cloud computing company, Salesforce.

Lee, who also lives in Seattle, said her family rescued a puppy, now 8 months old, a few months ago to fill the void Chief left behind.

"We're now able to bond and create new memories with a new puppy," she gushed.