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Animal Legislation Group: It’s Time to End Practice of ‘Pet Leasing’
SB 361 by Sen. Huffman Would Outlaw Pet Sales with Repossession Clauses
Austin, TX – January 16, 2019 – The Texas Humane Legislation Network applauds legislation filed today by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) that would make the practice of pet leasing illegal in the state.
“The practice of leasing pets is unethical at best,” said THLN’s executive director Laura Donahue Halloran. “It is a form of predatory lending that boosts commercial breeding and retail pet store industries that sell high-priced puppy mill animals, all the while promoting the idea that animals are products.”
Pet leasing creates other unintended consequences, she added, including uncertainty regarding who is responsible for a pet – the family or the leasing company. Unlike a regular payment plan, pet leases require balloon payments at the end of their term and allow sellers to repossess an animal at the end of the lease, which can last several years.
Sen. Huffman’s legislation, Senate Bill 361, will make it illegal for a pet to be repossessed by the seller as part of a contract for the transfer or purchase of a pet. Her bill defines a pet as a domesticated animal such as a dog or cat.
"I look forward to working with my colleagues, stakeholders, and advocates to prohibit this unethical scheme in Texas this session,” Sen. Huffman said.
Halloran said THLN will be prioritizing this legislation and asking its supporters to contact their lawmakers to request their support for the bill. She said many Texans are unaware of this practice and the harm it causes to both consumers and pets.
“No one is benefiting from these agreements except for the deceptive puppy mill profiteers behind these financial schemes,” said Halloran.
“This disturbing practice runs afoul of basic consumer protection standards,” she added. “It also raises practical questions about the fate of a pet, such as what happens during medical emergencies or after a repossession. Do medical payments count toward the price of a lease? Do dogs and cats end up in a shelter after they’ve been repossessed?”
This is the first time this type of legislation has been filed in Texas.
In 2017, California, Nevada, and New York enacted laws to prohibit pet leasing, and New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation after a 2018 lawsuit against a New Jersey pet store and pet leasing company for deceiving consumers with predatory financing agreements. At least four other states – Washington, Florida, Indiana, and Virginia – are also actively pursuing similar legislation in 2019.
Laura Stromberg Hoke
Owner, Laura Hoke Public Relations