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Pet leasing practice generating controversy in Connecticut

Animals and Wildlife

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you know the love for them is priceless. But, it can come with a cost.

The biggest price tag is often the pet itself.

There are several payment options out there, but one caught the attention of a Connecticut lawmaker, and he’s not happy about it.

News 8’s Laura Hutchinson shows us why “pet leasing” could soon become illegal in our state. 

It’s no surprise to see the Daniels family laughing and having fun with their pet. After about a year and a half with the Brownie the puggle, they can’t picture their family without him. The only problem is Brownie is still not an official member of the family.

“At this point, we still don’t own the dog. It is a lease agreement, not ownership of an animal in the traditional sense.”

Robert Daniels admits his 19-year-old daughter made a big mistake when she bought their dog. She signed a “pet lease” she couldn’t afford.

“She made payments on it for awhile, but there’s still a $4,000 balance on the dog,” he explained.

That’s a $4,000 balance on a dog that was originally $2,500.

If you’re not familiar with pet leasing, it is similar to leasing a car. You agree to a monthly payment over a period of time, then, at the end, you can choose to buy it by paying an agreed-upon lump sum. If not, you return the dog.

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And, it says right there in the contract, with Wags Lending, as it is in this case, if you don’t meet your obligation, they can take the pet back.

That is the worst case scenario for this family struggling to pay.

Stories like this are why State Senator Len Fasano wants to ban pet leasing in Connecticut. Other states have done it, and he wants Connecticut to be next.

“I don’t think people, when they leave, understand that ‘I don’t own the dog.’ That literally, upon default, the company can come in and take your dog,” he said. 

But not everyone agrees legislation is the answer.

Gary Nudelman has owned pet stores for years and says the more payment options there are, the better.

“Some people don’t make enough money to have $3,000 or $2,000, so we like to give options to take home the dog,” he said.

Nudelman added that they only take pets back when the family chooses.

“There’s nobody who comes out to your house and takes the dog,” he explained.

Returning the pet back is not the priority. He said the third-party bank is more interested in your credit.

“It’s always their choice. Nobody is coming to get the dog, but they are going to go after your good credit. The reason you got the loan is because you had decent credit,” he stated.

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Fasano calls it predatory lending, and consumers need to be aware.

He thinks he has enough support to have the practice banned.

“You cannot lease them, you can make installment payments, that’s fine. But it cannot be leasing with the right to repossess the animal. That’s just bad public policy,” he said.

As for the Daniels family, while the practice is still legal here, the road for them is unclear.

So the takeaway, while this is still legal in Connecticut, be aware of what you’re signing at the pet store.

There’s no fine print and it’s written right there how much more you’ll end up paying for the animal and what the terms are.

Don’t let the excitement of the pet cloud your smart financial judgment.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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