It sounds too strange to be true. Can you really lease a living thing? We thought it was pretty unusual, too, so we got in touch with the pet store that was doing it. And it turns out that they didn't know much about it either. So how did it get to the point where this dog owner didn't even own the pet he was paying for? TrustDALE investigates!
Seemed Like a Good Deal
Brian Drysdale and his girlfriend had just gone through a heartbreaking experience. She had just had a miscarriage. So they decided it might be the right time to bring a puppy into their lives.
Brian and his girlfriend went to a pet store to find the perfect puppy. They found Gizmo, a beautiful little Shih Tzu. The price tag was a bit high, $2,500, but Brian and his girlfriend were relieved to find out that they didn't have to pay all at once. Signs all over the store advertised financing for pets. Brian applied for financing for Gizmo and was approved in-store, electronically. He signed some paperwork and took his new puppy home.
A Shocking Discovery
When Brian got the first bill for his financing, he found out that his financing was actually a lease, and he didn't technically own Gizmo. The puppy, which the contract referred to as the product, could even be repossessed if Biran missed a payment.
To make matters worse, Brian learned that the $2,500 he thought he was financing would actually become over $6,000 to own the puppy. Even after he paid the lease, he would have to pay an additional $403 to own Gizmo.
We sent some of our producers into the pet store with a hidden camera. The employee they spoke to did say that the financing was a least to own option. But they didn't explain that the pet advertised for $2,500 would actually cost $6,222 if you choose to finance. They also failed to mention that even after you pay off the lease, you have to pay hundreds more to own the dog. So we contacted the manager.
An Uninformed Manager
We contacted the manager about the terms of the lease and the misleading sales tactics. What we found was that the manager was actually not very familiar with the leases she was offering. She was under the impression—as were Brian and his girlfriend—that they could simply pay the remainder of the $2,500 owed and own their pet. And that was what they were told at the pet store. But the lease terms said that they had to pay 75% of the remaining payments—that is, the $6,222—to own their pet. The manager was unclear on the actual terms of the contract she was offering her customers.
Once we explained the contract to the manager, we asked her to contact the lender, Credova, and resolve Brian's issue. Thankfully, that phone call was all it took. The pet store was able to get Brian out of his lease and allowed him to pay the balance of the $2,500 he was initially told the pet cost.
Pet Leasing Is Unethical
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says that pet leasing is unethical. It benefits pet stores and lenders who proved the leases, but not the animals or their owners.
TrustDALE was glad to get this problem solved. But we would also like to remind you that you don't have to pay $2,500 for a dog. You can adopt a pet from many shelters for around $100.