This woman has been granted sick pay to mind her unwell dog

The university reconsidered the case, and ruled in the woman's favor, granting her the leave allowance traditionally used for workers dealing with serious personal or family problems, according to the Italian Anti-Vivisection League (LAV), an animal rights organization which offered Anna legal advice.

The academic, who works at the La Sapienza University in Rome, was granted the pay after she needed to take two days off work to look after her pet.

It is the first such finding by an Italian court.

The argument also hinged on a law which calls for a £9,000 fine or a year in jail for those who abandon an animal to "grave suffering".

A judge accepted the woman's case that the university should put the absence down to "serious or family personal reasons".

The group's president, Gianluca Felicetti, said: 'It is a significant step forward that recognised that animals that are not kept for financial gain or their working ability are effectively members of the family.

"Now, with the necessary veterinary certification, those in the same situation will be able to cite this important precedent".

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