Paid leave to care for pets? For more Italians, the answer is ‘sì!’

In a rundown park in the shadow of Rome’s Colosseum, Eleonora Venturelli takes her dog Maya for a walk after finishing a day at nursing school.

She says if Maya needed more – an emergency visit to the vet, for example – she wouldn’t hesitate to drop everything, as she would if a member of her family needed her. “Maya, for me she is as important as my mother, as my father,” says Ms. Venturelli.

“I’m an only child. She is like my sister, though she is better than a sister,” she says with a wry smile. “She is a sister who doesn’t speak.”

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The place of pets in the family hierarchy is on Italian minds – after a university employee was granted a paid sick day by her employer to care for her English Setter earlier this fall. The situation became the talk of water coolers in a nation still reeling from…

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