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Should people get bereavement leave for the death of a pet?

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

When a pet dies, should the owner get time off from work?

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Well, a few states require employers to offer bereavement leave for nonhumans. Colleen Rolland thinks more should.

COLLEEN ROLLAND: I can't tell you how many times I have had clients who have sat across from me and said, I am grieving more for this animal than I did for my mother, father, sister - put in any human relation.

MARTÍNEZ: Rolland is president of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, which offer support following the death of an animal.

FADEL: Her opinion matches the way many Americans feel about their pets. A Pew Research study found about half of Americans consider pets family members.

MARTÍNEZ: Elizabeth Morrison (ph) lives in Eureka, Calif.

ELIZABETH MORRISON: I've never had a human walk up my driveway and decide to live with me. Things happen with animal friends that never happen with human friends.

MARTÍNEZ: Morrison says she still misses her cat Meita (ph), who died 30 years ago.

MORRISON: I think it's another world of emotions with animals. There's no complication, no talking, no stories, just the purest love.

FADEL: Employers are taking note. Google, Starbucks, United Airlines and Walmart have embraced a so-called pet-conscious workplace.

MARTÍNEZ: Even without leave, Colleen Rolland says, it's important to grieve the loss of a companion.

ROLLAND: People find it an amazing source of comfort to go to a place where they can safely talk about the grief that they're feeling for their pet.

FADEL: Rolland says when someone you know loses a pet, don't assume they can just get another. Their relationship to a specific animal is personal. Like a person you love, a pet you love can't just be replaced. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.