An animal advocacy group, Lega Anti Vivisezione, helped Anna make her case to her employer and, the group said in a statement, the university eventually agreed to grant two days of paid leave. “The lady lives alone, and had no alternatives to transport and assist the dog,” the group said.

Lega Anti Vivisezione argued that owners who fail to take proper care of a pet could find themselves vulnerable to legal action, because it would amount to the mistreatment or abandonment of the animal, a crime under Italian law.

“Now, with the due medical and veterinarian certifications, all those who find themselves in the same situation will be able to cite this important precedent,” said Gianluca Felicetti, the group’s chairman. “Another significant step forward that considers animals not kept for profit or production, but to all intents and purposes as members of the family.”

Paid leave for new pet owners or those who need to care for ailing pets has become part of some companies’ benefits programs. The Scottish company Brewdog allow employees one-week paid leave for employees who adopt a puppy, and several American companies offer bereavement days when pets die.

In Italy, though, because the university’s decision to grant the time-off request kept the case out of court, it was not clear how much of a precedent Anna’s victory establishes.

At the least, Lega Anti Vivisezione said, it should set an example.

“Animals are part of the family, and to take care of them, apart from being our duty must be our right!” it wrote in a Facebook post. The group shared an image of the pet owner and her dog.


“Anna” poses with her dog in this photo posted to the Facebook page of an Italian animal advocacy group.

LAV, via Facebook

Anna has two dogs, according to the Italian media: Cucciola, 12, and Duke, 17. She told La Stampa that they were part of her family and that the government should do even more to help pet owners.

“I think there should be more support for those who have animals, starting for example with public vet health care,” Anna said. “The costs to cure our little friends are very high, and not everyone can pay it.”

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