Many people make the mistake of giving people pets as a holiday gift, regardless of whether or not the recipient is interested in the responsibility of pet ownership. Pet purchases surge around November and December, and the number of pets in shelters increases around December and January.
Animal welfare advocates around the country advise people to ensure the recipient is eager and ready for a pet and to get the animal from a local shelter or rescue group. However, for those determined to get a pet from a breeder or pet store, they should be confident they are actually purchasing an animal. Some stores have begun using the practice of leasing pets.
Pet leasing is a new industry that preys on individuals who want to buy an expensive pet but can’t afford them. While there’s nothing unlawful about renting-to-own a companion animal, much as you would a couch, car, or any other piece of expensive property, the contracts used by the prominent pet-leasing firm Wags Lending, include terminology informing individuals they are leasing the pet and have no ownership rights. People can exercise their purchase option to keep the pet after the contract is up, but it is often incredibly expensive to do so.
Likewise, the lessees are responsible for the care and maintenance of the animal, which comes out of their own pocket regardless of their status as a “borrower” rather than an “owner.” If the company decides a lessee has broken the contract, the pet could be repossessed even after the lessee has spent a significant amount of money on food, healthcare, and other pet supplies.
The companies market to people who don’t have access to credit and who want to buy expensive, designer pets they can’t afford. However, the parent company of Wags Lending, Bristlecone Holdings, filed for bankruptcy this year.
California and Nevada have both passed bans on pet leasing, but the ASPCA is still lobbying other states to do likewise. The Federal Trade Commission’s consumer information blog also warned about the practice, stating people can still be on the hook for payments even if the animal dies.
McIntyre Tate LLP is a law firm practicing animal rights and animal law, which is a newly evolving field. If you need a skilled advocate to help you with your pet case, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our compassionate Rhode Island animal law attorneys are here to assist.
Contact usat (401) 351-7700 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation with us today.