Federal Trade Commission Urged to Investigate Pet Leasing Industry
Comments submitted to the FTC
The Animal Legal Defense Fund sent a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging it to investigate the pet leasing industry for deceiving consumers.
Comments submitted on January 26, 2019
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States sent a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging it to investigate the pet leasing industry for deceiving consumers. The complaint asked the FTC to investigate Wags Lending and associated pet stores for deceptive practices that lead consumers into signing leases for pets they believe they are purchasing. The complaint also asked the FTC to investigate the practices of Monterey Financial Services, which collects lease payments from Wags Lending’s customers.
Consumers interviewed stated that they were not aware that the papers they signed were leases that empowered a third party, Wags Lending, to seize their dog if they failed to make a monthly payment, and which made Wags Lending the legal owner of the dog.
What law does this action rely on?
The Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45 et seq.
Why this case is important: Pet leasing is a growing industry that dupes unsuspecting consumers into paying thousands of dollars or risk losing a beloved family member. In the typical situation described in the complaint, pet store personnel encourage customers who want to buy a puppy but are unable to pay the high sticker price, to use “financing” — unbeknownst to many customers, a lease — to take the animal home. Under these leases the total amount of money the customer pays is often significantly higher than the listed sticker price. Even after months of high payments, customers no more own their dog than they do a car they might be leasing. Additionally, many of these customers can face unexpectedly high veterinary bills, since most pet stores do business with puppy mills, and their puppies are often sick.