Employer offers 'pawternity' leave, $300 toward pet-adoption fees to its workers

Two dogs are seen lying together on the ground in a file image taken Feb. 9, 2020. (Photo by Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images)

A Texas insurance company is encouraging its employees to adopt pets -- by offering them "pawternity" leave and a sizable stipend.

The Zebra, an insurance comparison site, announced it would give employees $300 annually for those "welcoming a new cat or dog into their family."

To sweeten the deal, the company is also implementing a "pawternity" leave policy with paid time off to help workers "get acquainted with their new pet."

CEO Keith Melnick said he decided to offer the new benefits to help employees who are working remotely due to the pandemic to feel less lonely.

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“I know this kind of companionship can make a huge difference in quality of life and mental health,” Melnick said. "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."

Some employees have already started to take advantage of the company's offer.

Dan Kujanek and his wife decided to adopt a second dog and adopted Romy, a shepherd mix. Meanwhile, Maribeliz Ortiz used the benefit to bring home a miniature longhaired dachshund named Niko.

“I’m not ready to have a child any time soon,” the 27-year-old said. “But it feels really nice to be supported by my company to help start a family in the way I can right now.”