Staff at U.S. firm welcome new pets with help of adoption benefit

Texas-based Insurance Zebra is stepping up for employee wellness by helping them welcome furry friends into their lives.

The insurer has added a $300 annual benefit for employees adopting a new dog or cat and encouraging staff to take paid time off for “paw-ternity” leave.

“There was a time a while ago when I took my labrador Zuma with me on the train into my office daily,” said Keith Melnick, the company’s chief executive officer, in a press release. “I know this kind of companionship can make a huge difference in quality of life and mental health. Especially now that we’re all working remotely for the foreseeable future, I want to make sure that anyone at the Zebra who wants to can experience that.”

Read: Should employers welcome pets to the workplace?

Multiple staff members have already made use of the benefit. Maribeliz Ortiz, Zebra’s agency quality assurance coordinator, welcomed a long-haired dachshund named Niko. “I’m not ready to have a child any time soon, but it feels really nice to be supported by my company to help start a family in the way I can right now.”

As well, Dan Kujanek, the firm’s senior manager of performance marketing, and his wife adopted their first dog when they moved from New York City to Austin in 2017. With their new spacious backyard, coupled with the stay-at-home directive due to the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve made space for new rescue Romy, a shepherd mix.

Read: What are the pros and cons of bringing pets to work?