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Austin company The Zebra offers stipend for employees to adopt pets
(The Zebra)

Maribeliz Ortiz, agency quality assurance coordinator at The Zebra, used her pet stipend to welcome home Niko, a miniature long haired dachshund.

Working from home just got better for employees of local insurance-comparison site The Zebra, with its new employee benefit that gives them a stipend to adopt a furry friend - the first employee benefit of its kind in the nation, the company said.


Employees are offered a $300 stipend and are encouraged to take "pawternity" leave under the company's paid-time-off policy to get acquainted with their new pet, particularly while they are working from home "for the foreseeable future."

CEO of The Zebra Keith Melnick said his dog made a "huge difference" in his life and wants his employees to share that experience.

"There was a time a while ago when I took my Labrador, Zuma, with me on the train into my office daily. I know this kind of companionship can make a huge difference in quality of life and mental health. Especially now that we're all working remotely for the foreseeable future, I want to make sure that anyone at The Zebra who wants to can experience that," Melnick said.

A few employees are already taking advantage of the new benefit.

At Austin Animal Center, an open-intake facility that takes in lost and surrendered pets, a significant number of people have stepped up to foster and/or adopt since they are spending more time at home, said spokesperson Jennifer Olohan.

When businesses closed their doors in March due to the pandemic, the animal shelter followed, but they were able to get more 400 animals adopted or fostered. As more people are adopting or fostering while they work from home, the shelter's capacity to take in homeless pets has been steadily increasing since reopening, Olohan said.

"Animals are amazing companions, and shown to decrease stress levels, so it makes a lot of sense that people are opening their hearts and homes during such a difficult time," Olohan said.

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1923 Lake Austin mansion demolition request pitting preservationists and some neighbors against owner and city preservation office
Austin Monitor

By Jonathan Lee

The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.

The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'

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Freaky Floats and other Austin food & drink news
Austin Motel

What's new in Austin food & drink this week:

  • Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
  • Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
  • Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
  • Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
  • Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
  • Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
  • The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
  • Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
  • P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.