Friday, April 26, 2019

Predatory pet leasing schemes in Michigan

In 2017, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) issued consumer alerts through the Better Business Bureau and media outlets warning families about predatory financing practices, including “pet leasing” where the puppies are held as collateral. 

Financing options allow puppy stores to sell puppies to families who otherwise are not able to pay the full price. Depending on your credit history, you might end up "renting" your puppy.

Check the fine print!

When puppy buyers sign a lease agreement, the leasing company buys the puppy from the puppy store and retains ownership of the puppy until the customer makes all the monthly payments.

Puppy buyers can be easily misled by the financing language because the store employees do not understand the loan terms or simply desire to make the sale by glossing over them.  

The Family Puppy (Novi, MI) September 27, 2011
Photo Credit, Puppy Mill Awareness SE Michigan
Two Michigan pet stores offer pet leasing: The Barking Boutique (Grandville) and The Family Puppy (Flint, Troy, Novi), resulting in complaints filed with the BBB. 

Both stores advertised “My Pet Funding” last year as a financing option on their websites. 
The ad’s fine print read as follows: 


Now both The Barking Boutique and The Family Puppy stores advertise "Credova" on their websites. According to Credova's wesite, they are not actual lenders. The bottom of their website states:

"Credova provides a software platform for retailers to access third-party providers for lease-to-own financing and other lending products based on a consumer’s credit profile."

The Barking Boutique and Petland (Novi) puppy stores also offer high interest rate loans through Lending USA. 

According to a recent USA Today article “Pet leasing has been drawing scrutiny from lawmakers and animal welfare groups since media reports highlighted consumer complaints against Reno, Nevada-based Wags Lending, which pioneered the practice. Nevada and California have now outlawed pet leasing, and New York lawmakers are proposing legislation prohibiting lease contracts "where dogs or cats are used as collateral." 

In January, Florida joined the list of states with plans to ban predatory pet lending. The bill would require contracts to be voided if the pet could be used as collateral to ensure payments of the contract.

Even the American Kennel Club, a longtime supporter of the commercial dog breeding industry, opposes pet leasing:

“AKC supports a ban on predatory pet leasing schemes that victimize potential owners, undermine a lifetime commitment to a pet, and do not confer the rights and responsibilities associated with legal ownership of a pet.”

Bloomberg’s March 1, 2017 article “I am renting a dog” includes the most thorough coverage of this new tactic to help peddle puppies.

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