Canadian company introduces ‘pawternity’ leave for fur kids

When Calgarian Jessica Riopel and her husband decided to get a puppy, she knew they’d have to book time off work. 

They each booked off a week to spend time with their now four-year-old silver lab, Benson, using the time to crate train him and help him adjust to his new home. 

“Then we felt a little bit better kind of going to work, going about our lives a little more usually,” she said. “To us, it makes sense. You’re welcoming a new family member, right?” 

“He’s the centre of our lives. We love him so much, and I think he loves us back,” Riopel said.   

The Riopels used vacation time in order to have the time off to be with Benson, something she said is a fond memory.

Now some companies are introducing a benefit for their employees who have gotten a new pet. 

a woman squats next to a dog near a body of water
Calgarian Jessica Riopel and her now four-year-old dog Benson. (Submitted by Jessica Riopel)

Sometimes called pawternity, or pawrental leave, the benefit is paid time off for new pet parents to help them get their new family member adjusted at home. 

One Canadian company, communications agency Talk Shop Media, which works with businesses in Calgary and has offices in Vancouver and Toronto, recently introduced that benefit for its employees. 

Katie Stevens, managing partner at Talk Shop Media, said the average age of the company’s workforce is between 28 and 30, noting pawternity leave represents the interests of those employees.

As a female-owned company, she said, the organization tries to be supportive of working parents. But what that looks like, and the life priorities of people on her team, have changed, Stevens said.

“We want to make sure that we were acknowledging the fact that families these days come in many different forms and shapes and sizes,

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