Shutting Down Illegal Dog Leasing Practices
by Lee Chambers
Buttercup and Layla are cuddled by Dakin staff member Kristen before their happy reunion with their people.
On a wintry Wednesday this past February, a pair of five month-old Shih Tzu dogs were surrendered at Dakin. It was a distressing moment, which is typical in those circumstances, and it was evident that the dogs were very loved and wanted by their people. They didn’t want to give them up, they said. But they had to. The two women had leased the dogs from a pet shop and had found the payment terms overwhelming.
They showed Dakin staff members their lease paperwork, which outlined a payment plan of $232 monthly for 29 months (a total of more than $6,700) with a final additional payment of $450. According to the terms of the contract, if the lease-holder was not able to make payments for the entire period of time, they would need to surrender their dogs to a reputable shelter and provide proof of the surrender. Then their remaining balance would be reduced, but it would still be a significant amount.
Unsettled by this story, our staff reached out to authorities at the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, the organization that regulates pet shops. They confirmed that it is illegal to lease dogs in Massachusetts.* We contacted the two women and let them know that we would be returning their dogs to them, and they were joyfully reunited.
The shop that offered these leasing agreements has since stopped this practice, but Dakin wants to get the word out in case you – or anyone you know – is currently involved in a leasing agreement to have a pet dog in Massachusetts. If that’s the case, you should contact the Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts. Here’s a link to information about how to file a complaint: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/file-a-consumer-complaint
These predatory practices are illegal, and we hope that anyone who is involved in a dog leasing arrangement will notify the Attorney General’s office to get help. When people and their pets stay together, everyone wins.
*Here’s the link to the law that bans dog leasing in Massachusetts: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIV/TitleI/Chapter272/Section80I