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Off the Leash Off the Leash

How much is that puppy in the window ... per month?

A full-service pet leasing business claims to make keeping and caring for a pet easier than ever.

By Vetstreet Jan 15, 2013 4:13PM

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.

Photo: ThinkstockHow 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.

Bing: Find out where to adopt a pet

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.

Read the rest of the story here.

Photo: Thinkstock

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151Comments
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Stl,you can't help but wonder just what does happen when a person misses a payment on the pet.
Feb 12, 2013 7:48AM
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This story has so much wrong with it. You don't rent the pet. It doesn't go from one home to another. The goal is forever homes. Can you return a pet if it doesn't work out? Yes, but you can do the same thing with a pet you got at a shelter. I've only heard of one pet that had to go back, and that was an extreme case where a parent died and a whole bunch of other stuff happened.

You have the pet for the life of the pet. You pay a monthly membership fee that covers food, vet care, training, advice, and more. Stop paying it? No one takes the pet, as the monthly fee is not leasing the pet - it's for the services. You just don't get any services during that time. I know this from experience, having had some issues with paychecks not coming that stopped me from being able to pay for Hannah. They do not take away your dog for non-payment of membership fees. 

What would they take your dog away for? The same kinds of reasons a shelter, rescue group, etc. would. I know when we adopted two dogs in Texas (one for my mom, one for us), it was right in the paperwork that they reserved the right to remove the dog from our possession. Why would they do that? Things like neglect and abuse.

And I have received excellent vet care from Hannah. Whenever I've needed something, they were right there. I know people who have animals with major medical issues and Hannah covers it all. Think you're getting bad advice or not getting the treatment your dog deserves? No one is stopping you from taking your pet to another vet. You can also buy different food if you want, but my dog loves the stuff. He gets the puppy food from Castor & Pollux and absolutely loves it. I have to admit that when I was buying dog food, it was never one that cost that much.

For some reason people have this idea that Hannah is about renting you a pet for a short time and then taking it back. That is so far from the truth that it is ridiculous. They want you to have a long, happy life with your pet. Their goal is to place the pet once and that is it.

Some people make a big deal out of you not legally "owning" the pet. That has to do with them being able to do the health insurance (vet care) for your pet for cheaper. It's the same way whether you get your pet from them or you sign up one of your pets onto a membership plan. You have the option of buying out the contract, but then you are completely out of the system - the pet is yours and you don't get any of the benefits of a membership. Personally, I don't care much who a piece of paper says is my pup's owner - I make all the decisions for him, care for him, love him. He's mine.
Jan 16, 2013 3:07PM
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What a horrible way to treat sentient creatures, not to mention the lesson they are teaching their children. PETS ARE NOT DISPOSABLE!!! 

Then again, if some people could have rented their kids for a few months without any commitment....
Jan 16, 2013 12:33PM
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This is ridiculous!  Perhaps the idiots that thought this up should take the one thing they love most (their children, their home, their spouses or partners) and rent them out for people to use and do with them what they so choose and then allow a "third party" to make important life decisions about them! This world is absurd!

Jan 16, 2013 12:32PM
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This is ridiculous!  Perhaps the idiots that thought this up should take the one thing they love most (their children, their home, their spouses or partners) and rent them out for people to use and do with them what they so choose and then allow a "third party" to make important life decisions about them! This world is absurd!

Jan 15, 2013 11:59PM
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This is a terrible idea.  I hope people don't do it.  A pet forms attachments to its family.  How neurotic will it be if its getting new owners every few months?  I agree with the vet's comments above.  How can the care be consistent if it's with strangers every few months.   If you want a pet adopt one or even purchase one but they deserve a permanent home.   If you get attached can you buy it or do you have to continue to lease it for the 10-15 years of its life?  Where are the dogs from, stolen, overbred, etc.  I see no advantage except to the person getting the money.
Jan 15, 2013 11:48PM
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This turns a family member into a "thing" that can be bought and sold.  Years ago, I took in a young dog who'd been through a couple of homes, and I never was able to get him over the separation anxiety.  We had fifteen terrific years together, but I could never leave him alone for more than a few minutes, because he was always afraid of being abandoned.  Imagine how these "rental" dogs will be after being subjected to a number of homes.  What happens to the dog that is no longer profitable?  This is a bad idea from beginning to end.
Jan 15, 2013 11:44PM
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Sure puts a new twist on if its better to Lease or Buy? How about zero percent financing with $1000 down, for qualified customers? Optional rally fun package available? Tax, licensing and moral compass excluded.
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