News & Politics

Paid Family Leave ... For Pet Owners?

As Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton push for a federal mandate for paid family leave, some liberals insist that’s not enough. Yes, this is serious — a pet owner is arguing that family leave should cover cats and dogs, too.

The New York Post‘s Lindsay Putnam‘s recent headline says it all, “Pet owners deserve family leave, too.” No, she’s not joking.

While the rest of the country is hung up on the necessity of maternity leave — or even the newly coined “meternity” — one group continues to be overlooked when it comes to paid time off from work: new pet owners.

“Paw-ternity” leave is already a reality in the UK — the US pet-insurance provider Petplan found that nearly 5 percent of new pet owners in the UK were offered time off to care for their four-legged kids. (Not surprisingly, the UK is also light-years ahead of the US when it comes to maternity leave, offering up to 39 weeks of paid leave for new mothers.)

Big government benefits in Europe should not surprise us, but the idea that pets are as important as children and merit government-mandated time off is ludicrous. But Lindsay Putnam is unabashed.

“When I adopted Jameson, he was 6 years old and had spent the previous year of his life in an animal shelter,” she explained. “He was suffering from several health problems after being neglected by his previous owner — and was skittish, nervous and uncertain about why he was suddenly being transported to a strange new home.”

Her personal situation may have required some time off, but that doesn’t mean every pet owner needs it, and it certainly doesn’t mean the government needs to mandate it for everyone.

Nevertheless, Putnam seems to think there is a double standard between parents and pet owners. “While my co-workers with kids walk out the door at 6 p.m., no one seems to care that I also have a child at home waiting for dinner.” So now a pet is “a child”?

Next Page: Pets are good for your health, so they’re more important than babies. Yes, that’s pretty much what she says.

It gets better. “Many pet experts agree that new pet owners should try their best to clear their schedule for the first few days following a new animal’s arrival,” Putnam declares. Yes, new pet owners probably should spend a good deal of time with their furry friends, and this requires a new law? We should burden businesses even more than just requiring paid family leave for — I don’t know — actual families. No, that’s not enough.

Then, Putnam makes the argument that “spending time with your fur-baby” is “in your employer’s” best interest, too. “According to Psychology Today, pet owners have better self-esteem, fitness, sociability and happiness than non-pet owners. They also have lower blood pressure and cholesterol.”

If those arguments are so strong, why doesn’t Putnam use them on her own employer? There’s no law saying bosses cannot act on their own if they want to offer such benefits. Rather than adding further federal mandates and regulations, Putnam should ask employers to consider making private agreements with their workers.

But I suspect there’s a little bit of crazy going on here. Here’s her conclusion: “Having kids doesn’t improve an employee’s health — which would make them better workers — yet we grant them six weeks off to care for a newborn. Is it so much to ask that pet parents get a week off to do the same?”

Future generations totally don’t add to society, not as much as pets. Come on, people — there is a difference between a cat and a baby. We should love and care for both, but they are not the same, and more government regulations won’t do anything to change that.