- Pet leasing occurs when a buyer agrees to a payment plan and the seller retains ownership until all payments are made.
- A company just settled a charge of illegally renting pets this week and had to return hundreds of dogs.
- Many people are unaware that their pets are rented out and may be taken away if households cannot pay their bills.
Stick to that leash.
Whether you know it or not, you might be a pet renter rather than a pet owner — and, if you live in the 42 states where pet rental is still legal , a collection agency could seize your four-legged family member if you fail to pay your bills.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announcement This week, California-based Monterey Financial Services, LLC agreed to provide more than $930,000 in debt relief and restitution to resolve charges that it illegally rented dogs in Massachusetts. In addition to waiving outstanding debts held by customers, the settlement includes transferring full ownership of hundreds of repossessed dogs to Massachusetts residents.
“While we disagree with the state’s findings, we have chosen to reach an agreement to move away from this issue to better serve our customers,” Monterey told Insider in a statement. “Monterey has endeavored and continues to strive to employ business practices in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”
When families buy their pets, they probably weren’t aware that a lease was in place. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the word “lease” is not mentioned in promotional materials when purchasing animals.
This typically happens when a seller, often a pet store or breeder, partners with a private lending company like Monterey to offer monthly financing plans, often filled with hidden fees, to the buyer, the ASPCA. mentioned in a statement in 2018.
Some of the payment plans are actually leases, which means that the puppies are owned by the leasing company until paid. Fees can range from hundreds of dollars to over a thousand dollars, depending on the length of the lease and the price of the dog.
States began banning the practice in 2017, starting with Nevada and California. New York joined the prosecution in 2018, after the state attorney general’s office filed a court case against a large pet rental chain. The ASPCA valued that about 25-30% of his pet sales at the time involved leases. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey and Washington have also banned the practice, according to the ASPCA.
But that leaves Americans in the rest of the country vulnerable to having their pets kidnapped. The ASPCA, which criticizes the rental of pets, Told The New York Times that the practice of renting pets likely began in 2013, through a Nevada-based company that would transfer its debt to Monterey after the pets were purchased.
“Getting a dog can be a significant emotional and financial investment for many families, so when the dog is used as collateral in a lease, the end result can be costly and heartbreaking,” Massachusetts AG Healey said. mentioned in a press release last year.