People are people.
Things are things.
And dogs, well they are dogs but they are somewhere in between.
I get and respect that some people view their dogs as more than just a canine companion.
There are those that equate them to children. And there are those that consider them a part of their day-to-day life whether they see the relationship approaching that of family or a sidekick friend on four legs.
What I don’t get is who would lease a dog.
To be honest, I had no idea you could lease a dog until this week.
That’s due to news reports that a California-based company known as Monterey Financial Services had reached a settlement with the Attorney General’s office of Massachusetts.
It might give you an idea of how the firm might approach due diligence in its leasing services is the fact that Massachusetts is one of six states — including California — that outlaws the financing of pet purchases through lease agreements.
The firm reached a settlement with Massachusetts. It required them to cancel almost $700,000 debt involving 211 outstanding leases, transfer full ownership of the dogs to the Massachusetts residents, pay $175,000 in restitution to consumers for lease payments the firm collected but legally couldn’t, and pay a $50,000 fine to the state.
Monterey Financial Services issued the usual gobbledygook statement firms often do after they get caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar.
They released a statement saying they stood by their record of “high levels of performance for our clients, low consumer complaint ratios, and a deep-rooted dedication to customer service.”
They added they disagreed with the state’s findings and then stated “Monterey has and continues to strive to employ business practices in full accordance with all applicable regulations and laws.”
And that’s where the rubber dog bone hits the road. They weren’t employing business practices “in full accordance with all applicable laws and regulations” because it is illegal to lease dogs in Massachusetts.
It is illegal for a firm to offer leases for people to buy dogs in Massachusetts. It doesn’t get simpler or more straight forward than that.
Of course, if you’ve ever entered into a lease they’re not as simple or straight forward as buying something outright or financing it with a traditional loan.
That doesn’t mean all of the required legal wording and such isn’t in the lease agreement.
It’s just that there are a lot of moving parts in leases. They run the gamut from deprecation/appreciation, who is response for wear-and tear as well as maintenance, excessive mileage liability, and how the final payment is determined.
There are also dog-specific issues such as what happens if your dog bites someone while it is being leased. Rest assured there is language in the lease agreement that holds the lender harmless. But insurance companies have a tendency to require higher premiums for leased vehicles when it comes to accident and liability coverage because of legal issues that can arise with a third party in terms of potential lawsuits for damages.
Dog bites or attacks can be serious and even deadly which means they can be expensive.
There is also the issue of what happens if a dog dies in the middle of a lease. You’re still stuck with the payments.
The actual cost of borrowing can be higher or it can be lower than a traditional loan.
Then there is open ended leases and closed end leases.
Having leased cars before on both open and closed end leases, everything is spelled out. But the problem is many people gloss over or assume things that they shouldn’t assume. And given the amount of money involved in leasing a pet as opposed to a car and the fact it is even more emotionally charged, it is easy to understand why California lawmakers thought it was wise to take pet leasing as an option for acquiring pets off the table entirely in the Golden State.
The obvious question is why lease a dog?
First if you miss a payment, they can repossess the dog. The same thing could happen with things bought with loans that are secured such as through a vehicle’s title or a mortgage. But the vast majority of consumer financing is unsecured debt. That means the biggest threat for you skipping payments is damage to your credit rating and the ability to borrow when needed.
Yes, some firms that dabble in pet leasing give you the option of turning in your dog at the end of the lease term whether it is 12 or 24 months.
Of course, you are required to pay a fee based on depreciation and such. How one depreciates a dog is right up there with the search for a perpetual motion machine.
One pet leasing firm assures its clients that they will strive to make sure pets that are returned at the end of a lease find loving homes.
They don’t tell you how they do that. If you’re a betting person they likely turn them over to a rescue group or an animal shelter that will sometimes charge a small fee. There is not a profitable market for dogs that are 2 years or older.
The reason leasing is seen as the most plausible course of action is for people who can’t afford to pay cash in the first place for a dog. They tend to be young puppies and pure breeds. The demand isn’t out there to pay top dollar for a 2-year-old or so dog.
Yes, some older dogs that are bred for competition may fetch big dollars but they are the deception and not the rule.
When Dante passed away, I initially wanted to replace him with another pure-bred Dalmatian. All of my Dalmatians except for my first — Zebra — were rescue dogs.
There were a number of purebred Dalmatians out there but I was looking for one specifically that was as active, as rambunctious and liked to run as much as Rascal, a Dalmatian mix with a liberal sprinkling of pit bull.
Commercial sites offered none. But they did offer a lot of Dalmatian puppies that they were willing to sell for anywhere between $900 and $3,700.
I don’t have the time for a young puppy. And I’ve done quite well with finding tail wagging friends from rescue efforts and animal pounds. That is even true with dogs that had been abused.
And to be honest, I’m not about to spend a lot of money on a dog.
But I also don’t want to treat a dog like a commodity.
They aren’t human. But they also aren’t a thing.
In looking at various stories about people that ended upon leasing instead of buying a dog, they often were caught up with “exotic” or flashy dog breeds.
In that aspect it is much like a car.
You can afford monthly payments to obtain a more than moderately equipped Ford Focus but for the same monthly expenditure you can lease a revved up fully-loaded Mustang although you have to worry about how you are going to keep it at the end of 36 months if you are still “in love” with the car.
Both provide you with what you need but one is more exotic and therefore more emotionally thrilling at first glance.
A car, though, is still a thing.
A dog is more than that.