RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you've ever experienced the loss of a pet, you know it can be devastating. For anyone who has gone through this, it's probably hard to imagine trying to go back to work right away.
We found out that some companies are actually giving people time off, calling it "pet bereavement" time.
When Erica Lee lost her beloved dog, Chief, she said words can't describe the amount of pain she felt.
"Chief was the best dog ever, he was very sweet, loving...I was heartbroken," said Lee.
Luckily, Lee's company, Trupanion, allowed her to take a day off to regroup, and help her son understand the tremendous loss.
"Being able to stay home with him and grieve with him was invaluable, it was so important to me," Lee said.
Though pet bereavement days aren't required under federal or state laws, we found several national companies are now allowing mourning pet owners time off to grieve. VM Ware and Maxwell Health give employees flexible days off. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants allows managers to grant up to three days away from work. Trupanion's policy gives employees one paid pet bereavement day.
"We allow people to actually do that grieving process and just be able to heal. I think you need that closure when you lose a pet and it's important to have the time to do that," said Dani Kahn with Trupanion.
With 30 percent of pet owners surveyed saying they felt grief and sadness for at least six months after losing an animal, pet grief counselor Janet Zimmerman warns for some people, losing a pet can be a defining moment of their lives.
"The loss of a beloved pet is extremely devastating. I've seen people who cannot get up out of bed at all, they don't accept phone calls, they are just really so lost," said Zimmerman.
Zimmerman said it's critical that grieving pet owners be given time off.
"It;s really very, very difficult to function, and if you can't function, you certainly can't function at work, and you're not the person you were before. You need the time to get back to some sense of normality," she said.
Lee said she's thankful for the time she had to grieve and the support she had from her employer.
"This should absolutely be the norm for many businesses if not all," Lee said.
Zimmerman recommends speaking to other pet owners and coworkers who understand what it's like to lose a pet, to help during the grieving process.
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