Poodles over ping pong: This startup is paying for its employees to adopt a pet

Puppy

A US startup is offering employees the ultimate COVID-19 work-from-home perk by paying the adoption fees for anyone re-homing a pup.

The Zebra, an insurance startup based in Austin, Texas, is offering a US$300 pet adoption stipend, in a bid to encourage pet ownership, especially during the pandemic, when a little companionship goes a long way.

First reported in the Wall Street Journal, the pet policy came into effect at the same time as an extension to parental leave, and is partly designed to recognise furry friends as family members and dependents.

While the policy came into effect in January, pre-COVID-19, chief executive of The Zebra Keith Melnick says supporting employees on their pet parent journeys is even more important during the pandemic.

So far, at least six of the startup’s 250 employees have taken advantage of the new perk.

“There was a time when I took my Labrador, Zuma with me on the train into my office daily,” Melnick said in a statement on the startup’s LinkedIn page.

“I know this kind of companionship can make a huge difference in the quality of life and mental health.

“Now that we’re all working remotely, I want to make sure that anyone at The Zebra who wants to, can experience that.”

According to a local news report, cat adoptions in Austin in April 2020 were up 70% on the same month last year. Dog adoptions were up 60%.

The same trend can be seen in Australia, with pet adoption rates spiking during the lockdown. The Lost Dogs’ Home in North Melbourne reportedly saw 566 adoptions in May, for example — the most it’s seen in any one month for more than two years.

Office dogs are said to boost productivity, improve employee happiness, and even foster a healthy company culture.

They can also encourage busy workers to take time away from their screen and get some fresh air, even if they do have to take a poo bag with them.

If pets can bring all those benefits to the office, why wouldn’t you want employees to take a puppo home?

NOW READ: Doggos of startupland: Should your startup have an office pup?

NOW READ: “The fur baby is part of the family”: How Mad Paws attracted 370,000 customers by talking about their dogs

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