Warning: Rent-a-puppy ripoff flourishing at pet stores

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Dog in cage
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We live in a world where you can rent or lease anything from furniture to clothing to cars. But have you ever heard of leasing a puppy?!?

There’s a dangerous new trend at pet stores that could put your wallet in the doghouse.

RELATED: 5 things to know about dog DNA test kit Wisdom Panel

Puppy leases are a hazard to your finances

Imagine going to your local pet store and falling in love with a cute puppy. Let’s say it’s a golden retriever.

Because animals can be so expensive, many pet stores offer financing. Let’s say you finance the $2,400 that puppy costs. You walk out of there very happy, ready to bring your new family member home for the first time.

Fast forward a few weeks. You’re going over your credit reports and see a $5,800 charge from some company that you’re completely unfamiliar with.

That’s the case one couple who spoke with Bloomberg found themselves in last year when they unwittingly leased their new golden retriever pup from the pet store.

Yes, renting a dog — it’s actually a thing!

In another example cited by The Wall Street Journal, a young woman got a Chihuahua puppy from her local pet store. The puppy usually sells for around $1,900.

But while she thought she was financing the dog, she unknowingly signed a lease agreement to pay some $180/month for 24 months.

That would put her on the hook for $4,370 for a dog that normally sells for less than half of that.

If you’re a longtime follower of Clark Howard, you know the money expert isn’t a fan of leasing anything — be it vehicles or animals.

Here are some eye-opening facts about pet leases:

  • Typical lease terms are from one to three years.
  • The animal can be repossessed by the leasing company if you miss a payment.
  • You have to pay a residual if you want to purchase the pet after your lease term ends. This can be a one-time charge of several hundred dollars.
  • You’re still responsible for the payments, even if your animal runs away or dies.

Two states — California and Nevada — currently prohibit renting a pet, according to the Journal. New York is on the cusp of becoming the third.

The real solution to all this craziness? Consider adopting a pet from your local animal shelter. You’ll pay far less and still get a loveable member to add to your family!

More pet stories on Clark.com:

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring savings tips to that unique subset of individuals. He can be reached at theo@clark.com.
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