Pet Leasing Is A Deceptive Business & Animal Welfare Organizations Are Calling Them Out

Today, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States sent a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging them to investigate the harmful pet leasing industry for deceiving consumers.

The complaint asks the FTC to investigate Wags Lending and associated pet stores for deceptive practices that lead consumers into signing leases for pets they believe they are purchasing. The complaint also requests that the FTC investigate the practices of Monterey Financial Services, which collects lease payments from Wags Lending’s customers.

In the typical situation described in the complaint, pet store personnel encourage customers who want to buy a puppy but are unable to pay the high sticker price, to use “financing”—unbeknownst to many customers, a lease—to take the animal home. Really?

Consumers interviewed stated that they were not aware that the papers they signed were leases that empowered a third party, Wags Lending, to seize their dog if they failed to make a monthly payment, and which made Wags Lending the legal owner of the dog. Under these leases the total amount of money the customer pays is often significantly higher than the listed price.

Even after months of high payments, customers do not own their dog, this is sadly the same as leasing a car. Additionally, many of these customers can face unexpectedly high veterinary bills, since many pet stores do business with puppy mills, and puppies are often sick.

“Pet leasing is a growing industry that dupes unsuspecting people into paying thousands of dollars or risk losing a beloved family member,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a statement. “The Federal Trade Commission should take swift action to protect Americans from these unethical businesses.”

“Pet leasing is the latest scam from the same pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs to unsuspecting families,” said John Goodwin, senior director of the Stop Puppy Mills Campaign at the Humane Society of the United States. “It’s time for the Federal Trade Commission to hold the pet industry to a higher standard. Pets are family members for most Americans and the process of acquiring a new pet should be humane for the animals and fair to families.”

California, Nevada and New York lawmakers determined pet leasing is so detrimental to their residents that they banned the practice outright. Multiple other states are poised to adopt similar laws.

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