Although more and more people are becoming educated on adopting homeless pets from shelters and rescues or purchasing them from responsible breeders, many are still falling for the pet store tactics. Many cities and states are now requiring that pet stores only offer rescue and shelter dogs and cats to the public, which has greatly reduced the need for puppy mills and other terrible breeders. Unfortunately, poor conditions for animals isn’t the only problem arising from pet stores. One family found out the hard way…
Dawn Sabins was looking to surprise her young son with a puppy after their Shiba Inu passed away back in 2015. In March of that year she went to a local pet store and purchased a Golden Retriever puppy. The puppy was an incredible $2,400.00, but that isn’t the only part that’s eye-opening. A few weeks after they brought the puppy home, she and her husband noticed $5,800.00 charge from a credit company they’d never heard of.
Even more surprising was everything they found out after discovering this charge. The family had purchased the dog, Tucker, from a pet store and used the financing the store offered there. The company was called Wags Lending, which claims to offer financing for those looking to adopt a pet but can’t afford one. When Sabins finally contacted a customer service representative for Monterey Financial Services, Inc., the company that Wags Lending is underneath, she found they didn’t even own Tucker at all – they were renting him.
According to Bloomberg, Sabins states, “I asked them: ‘How in the heck can I owe $5,800 when I bought the dog for $2,400?’ They told me, ‘You’re not financing the dog, you’re leasing.’ ‘You mean to tell me I’m renting a dog?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah.’ ” They were not Tucker’s owners at all. Without realizing it, the Sabins had agreed to 34 monthly payments of $165.06, after which they had the right to actually buy Tucker for another large sum. If Tucker got lost or passed away, the family would still owe an early repayment charge. Even if they opt to pay the lease until the end, they’d end up spending the equivalent of over 70% annualized interest.
The Sabins had decided that Tucker wasn’t the right fit for their family, but they weren’t allowed to return the dog without payment. She ended up selling him to a local dog trainer and stopped paying the lease – but that doesn’t mean they let her off the hook. The Sabins aren’t alone, either. Many have been tricked into leasing their new pets without even realizing it and the interest, or “rental fees,” are often twice that of the cost of the pet.
The bizarre “rental agreement” is not exclusive to dogs. According to Chron, a Jacksonville, Florida resident also got swindled after purchasing a Bengal cat at a pet store for $1,700. In financing the exorbitantly priced feline, she didn’t realize that she’d actually signed up to pay 32 payments of $129, the total of about $4,100.
“They explained to me that not only was this not a loan but a lease in which I would either have to continue making these payments or return the animal,” the cat owner wrote in a complaint, as reported by Chron. “Also this cat is ruining my credit score.”
We’re wondering what everyone else is wondering – why would anyone rent or lease a pet, regardless of where they are purchasing it from? Your guess is as good as ours. Bloomberg interviewed the CEO of Bristlecone Holdings LLC, the Reno, Nevada-based company that operates Wags Lending. He has no sympathy for those surprised by the fact that they are renting their new pets and have taken hits to their credit reports.
If increasing awareness for animal welfare wasn’t enough reason to avoid pet stores and poor breeders, we certainly hope that Wags Lending is.