I could barely believe what my eyes were taking in as I read Michael Symons article on pet leasing. We're used to the term leasing from cars, where you have lower monthly payments and give the car back at the end of a couple years. This works much the same.

According to Wikipedia, "some customers believed they were taking out loans to buy a pet when, in fact, they were only leasing an animal that could be repossessed by the lender in the event the payments were not kept up. The process of leasing a pet typically starts in a retail pet store, but the loan is made by a third-party contractor. The revenue model for pet leasing is the same as car leasing. The borrower enters a contract, typically for two years, and agrees to monthly payments."

So you see a dog you'd love to have but it's say $1,500. They talk you into signing one of these leasing agreements loaded with fine print and confusing language that most never read fully. You end up paying far more over time while not actually owning the dog as payments are being made. Typically at the end of one of these leases it costs additional money to actually finally purchase the dog. What does all this mean? You got it. You've been tricked into renting a dog.

Think about that.

Renting a dog.

So much is wrong with this I don't know where to begin. How about if you miss a payment, yes, they can take the dog away. Imagine bringing a living being into your family and giving it a home, and a year and a half later corrupt business people repossess your pet as if it's a piece of furniture. Don't hand me the line about how legally dogs are only property. In some legal aspects, yes, but we don't have cruelty to furniture laws, do we? We don't have furniture abuse laws, right? Even legally there should be a distinction for this sort of psychological abuse repossession of a living animal would create. Morally it is unquestionably wrong.

If something God forbid happens to your pet while you're in one of these leases, you're still paying for it. No getting off the hook. But that's the least of it.

Perhaps the most of it is these are living creatures we're talking about. Renting one is just sick. Yes, I understand buying one seems odd too; you wouldn't be legally allowed to buy a human being. Yet at least the assumption is you are giving a lifelong home to a new family member. But leasing? Might as well call it renting. What if at the end of this 'lease' the rare case comes along where the person decides NOT to pay the final purchase fee? You're just going to give it back? Oh sure, the dog only has 20,000 miles on it and little wear. They'll sell it to someone else. That's not how this should work. A dog shouldn't be a temporary amusement until your first child comes along or until you're out of mom and dad's house. It needs to be a lifelong commitment. The very idea of leasing describes anything but that.

There's legislation in New Jersey to put a stop to leasing agreements for pets. I support it. The bill was just advanced unanimously last week by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. Let's hope it goes all the way to the governor's signature.

How do you feel about leasing agreements for pets? Let's find out. Take our poll below.

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