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Should Pet Bereavement Be The Norm For Companies?

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --  If you've ever experienced the loss of a pet, you know it can be devastating. For anyone that's gone through this, it's often difficult to go back to work right away and function as normal. Some companies are more understanding than others and actually give people time off for bereavement.

When Erica Lee lost her beloved dog, Chief, she says words can't describe the amount of pain she felt.

"Chief was the best dog ever, he was very sweet loving. I was heartbroken," said Lee.

Luckily Erica's company allowed her to take a day off to regroup and help her son cope with the tremendous loss.

"Being able to stay home with him and grieve with him was invaluable, it was so important to me," said Lee.

Though pet bereavement days aren't required under federal or state laws, several national companies are now allowing mourning pet owners time off to grieve.

VMware and Maxwell Health give employees flexible days off.

Kimpton Hotels and restaurants allows manager's to grant up to three days away from work.  And Trupanion's policy gives employees one paid pet bereavement day.

"We allow people to actually do that grieving process and just, just be able to heal. I think you need closure when you lose a pet and it's important to have the time to do that," said Dani Kahn with Trupanion.

30 percent of pet owners surveyed said they felt grief and sadness for at least six months after losing an animal.

Pet grief counselor Janet Zimmerman warns for some people, losing their pet can be a defining moment of their lives.

"It's really very, very difficult to function, and if you can't function, you certainly can't function at work, and you're really not the person you were before. You need the time to get back to some sense of normality," said Zimmerman.

Erica says she thankful for the time she had to grieve and the support she had from her employer. "This should absolutely be the norm for many businesses if not all," said Lee. Pet loss counselors often recommend speaking to other pet owners and coworkers who understand what it's like to lose a pet to help during the grieving process.

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