By Manisha Ganguly

ROME (CNN) — An Italian academic and dog owner has won the right to sick pay, after she took time off work to care for her poorly pet.

The woman, who was only identified as Anna, asked for two days’ leave because the ill animal needed constant medical supervision before it could be taken into surgery.

When her employer, Rome’s La Sapienza University, refused her request, she appealed, demanding her right to paid leave as a public servant.

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Italy’s Penal Code prohibits the abandonment of pets, and says keeping an animal in conditions that may cause it to suffer is a crime; both are punishable with jail time or a hefty fine.

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.

La Sapienza University confirmed that the woman is an employee but declined to comment further.

Gianluca Felicetti, president of LAV, said the case had set an important precedent for animal lovers in Italy.

“This case reflects a shift in public opinion and understanding of animal rights,” a spokeswoman for LAV told CNN. “It is something that we hope will stimulate more attention and (the) adoption of similar practices in other workplaces.”

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The LAV spokeswoman said Anna’s dog had survived the surgery and was now doing well.

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