"Paw-ternity Leave" Is A Thing In The UK, Which Makes Sense, Because Our Pets Are Definitely Family

In the United States many new parents are still struggling to get adequate family leave. In other parts of the world, however, employees are even getting time off to care for their pets. In the UK, policies affectionately termed "paw-ternity leave" allow employees anywhere from a few hours to a few months off to be there for their ailing pets — and although it might sound frivolous at first, it actually makes perfect sense. If there's anything making it crystal clear that pets are family, it's paw-ternity leave.

Pet owners everywhere will unwaveringly argue that their furry friends are more than four-legged creatures who drink from the toilet and poop in litter boxes. A pet can be a son, daughter, a brother or sister — a lifelong companion that gives love unconditionally without expecting anything in return. When it feels like your world is crumbling, your pet will always be there for you. It's the reason that people always "joke" about how they like their cat or dog better than more people. Lols. Except... they're notalways joking.

There's more than one way, more than one reason that a dog or cat will enter your life as an animal and make its place in your heart as family. Here are a few of them:

1. Pets Are A Shoulder To Lean On As Much As Any Human

Research has found that spending time with a loved one can boost your spirits, and it turns out this includes pets. Studies have shown that owning a pet can help people suffering from depression by providing activity, routine, uncomplicated love, interaction, companionship, and a sense of responsibility and accountability. Just like calling a parent or chatting with a sibling can bring you happiness, so can some quality cuddle time with your furry buddy. They're good for the heart and soul, and they'll put a smile on your face.

2. Our Pets Go Where We Go

You wouldn't leave your young child at home, and fewer people these days are willing to do that with their pets, too. People happily take their pets to work, and even on vacation with them. Pet-friendly hotels provide accommodations for even the fluffiest member of your family, and the lucrative pet industry offers an array of products that make travel easier on your four-legged, feathered, furred, or scaled friend. Wherever you go, you go as a family.

3. We're Always Keeping A Watchful Eye

Unfortunately, there are still times when we're separated from our buddies. But like all good pet-moms and pet-dads, we're always watching. Products are more rapidly hitting the market allowing you to not only monitor your pet via camera, but also hear them and talk to them in return, reminding them that they're never alone.

4. In The Eyes Of The Law, Your Pet Is A Person, Not An Object

Pets used to be considered no differently than your shoe or a couch cushion. They were your physical property, and no more; but in recent years especially, that has changed quite significantly. While they are still technically property, judges now consider what is in the best interest of an animal and its well-being. Additionally, if your pet is killed, you can sue for suffering and loss of companionship — something once afforded only to spouses and children. Bottom line? A pet is not a thing. A pet is family.

5. Pets Remind Us Of What "Family" Really Means

Many of us learn by the time we're adults that family isn't necessarily who you're connected to by blood; it's about loyalty, love, and commitment to a relationship that make you family. Pets give us such a beautiful bond that more than half of us consider ourselves pet parents, not pet owners. In fact, more than 80 percent of us consider our pets equal to our two-legged children!

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