By Dr. Patty Khuly

Yes, that’s right. If you’re so inclined, you can say goodbye to the old days when you owned a pet and took care of his needs yourself. Instead, you can now elect to “adopt” a pet for a monthly fee and live comfortably with the knowledge that your adored family member gets all the meals, supplies and healthcare he needs — except that he’s not really your pet.

Hannah the Pet Society is a new company that’s taking the concept of pet placement and animal healthcare to what its founder believes is the next level: a full-service pet leasing business that claims to make keeping and caring for a pet easier than ever.

Pet renting services \\ Photo: Thinkstock

How it works
You pick out a pet in one of two Portland, Ore., storefronts (the first of their kind) and agree to pay a set monthly fee to cover the cost of his lease, food, basic supplies and veterinary care. Prospective pet keepers can choose a dog, cat, rabbit or guinea pig knowing that if it doesn’t work out, they can always return him.

The sales pitch
Offering you everything that your pet needs in a convenient, one-payment-a-month approach means more people can budget appropriately for their pets and feel secure in the knowledge that they will not want for anything. The service gets more animals into more homes, with fewer reasons for relinquishment to shelters — or so the sales pitch claims.

The catch
The downside is that you don’t actually have any legal control over your pet. Not only does the company reserve the right to repossess your pet — say, if you should fail to make timely payments — but it's in charge of all of your pet's nutrition, wellness care and medical decisions, too.

This veterinarian's concerns
This latter point is largely why veterinarians like me are uncomfortable with pet services like Hannah’s. The fact that the person most invested in the life of the pet isn’t responsible for major medical decisions is somewhat unsettling. And knowing that a for-profit company with actuarial tables to consult and books to balance is in charge of someone you love should send shivers down your spine.

Photo: Thinkstock