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Would You Lease A Pet?

doggy in the window

If you’re thinking about getting a pet but aren’t sure you can handle the responsibility, you still have a few options.  Consider volunteering for a shelter, pet-sitting for a friend, or fostering a pet; there are even some short-term fostering situations.  If none of these appeal to you, or if you have a little extra money to spend on your pet, you now have another option: lease a pet.  MSN has the details.

A company called Hannah’s Pet Society has started a new business: leasing pets.  Here’s how it works: interested parties go to one of the company’s two stores (currently in Portland, Oregon) and pick out a dog, cat, rabbit, or guinea pig that they like.  They agree to pay a monthly fee that covers the cost of the pet: a fee for the lease, food, supplies, and medical treatment.  Then they get to take the pet home, and act like an ordinary pet owner.

But they’re not ordinary pet owners.  The pets can easily be returned to Hannah’s at the end of the month if it doesn’t work out.  I bet they could even be swapped for other pets, though I wonder how many times Hannah’s would let a customer swap.  The other catch is that unlike normal pet owners, customers of Hannah’s don’t get to make many decisions regarding the pet’s care.

Hannah’s chooses the food and medical care that the pets receive.  On the one hand that could seem like a good thing: it guarantees the pet receives a certain level of quality care.  On the other, it doesn’t, and because the owner is technically Hannah’s, the de facto pet owner doesn’t have any control over important decisions in the pet’s life.

Can we really be assured that Hannah’s is going to make the best decisions for the pet?  It may want to keep its products (because that’s what they are) healthy and happy-looking, but at the end of the day, it’s a for-profit business.  It could easily end up making decisions that benefit its bank account rather than the pets in its charge.

What happens if Hannah’s wants to make a decision for your pet that you don’t agree with?  Owners can buy out a pet’s contract if they’re terminally ill – so they can choose their own veterinarian for the pet – but what about if you just decide you want to keep your healthy pet permanently?  Would Hannah’s let that happen?

At first glance leasing a pet seems like a good idea: it seems like a fancier version of fostering a pet.  But the difference between fostering a pet and leasing one is that fostered pets come from shelters and rescues, and those groups exist solely for the welfare of the animals.  Hannah’s exists to make money.  It just seems like too great a risk to take, especially when there are other options.

What do you think: does leasing a pet sound like a great or terrible idea?


*(The above image by Wrote is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)