You can rent cars, chainsaws, furniture and even fake flowers. But did you know that you can also RENT A DOG? Yes, really.
Dog for Rent – only $45 a day ….
You can rent cars, chain saws, furniture and even fake flowers. And now you can also rent a dog…
The concept of renting a pooch for a day, a weekend, or even a month and then giving him back to the rental company has brought howls of protest reverberating across the Atlantic. From members of Parliament in England and Scotland to members of the Massachusetts State Senate, animal rights groups, ordinary dog lovers and it seems even the cat lovers are getting their claws out and banding together in defense of man’s best friends.
At the centre of this controversy is a company called Flexpetz with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London and plans of spreading around the world. Canada has been pinpointed too.
In London, when the company opened for business, Labour MP David Drew tabled a motion in the British Houses of Parliament. “Dogs are not jewellery or dinner suits to be used for a day and then returned,” he explained to his colleagues.
“This House expresses concern about the operation of the dog rental company, Flexpetz, which has opened in London with the intention to expand to various cities across the United Kingdom; acknowledges that the UK dog rental business is currently very small but recognises the potential for its growth due to the increase in fashion accessory dogs; disapproves of causing distress to dogs as a result of them being rented out to numerous people; believes that this encourages irresponsible attitudes to dog ownership; further believes that dog renting is, or should be, a breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in that it is highly likely to inhibit dogs from having the ability to exhibit normal behaviour patterns…”
In the United States, when animal lovers heard that the company was planning to open their doors for business in Boston, Massachusetts, a group called The Coalition to Prohibit the Renting of Pets stepped up the plate and with the help of Boston city councilor Chuck Turner, the Act Prohibiting the Renting of Certain Pets became law in that state on August 5, 2008. Hopefully they have set a precedent others with follow.
But what exactly is Flexpetz?
Their own website explains it best: “Flexpetz is a unique concept for dog lovers who are unable to own a full-time doggy pal, but miss spending time with a canine friend.
“Through the Flexpetz shared dog ownership concept, members can spend from just a few hours to a number of days with each of our dogs. Flexpetz dogs are available in varied breed sizes to ensure compatibility with our member’s individual lifestyles and unique circumstances.”
This doggy timeshare concept isn’t cheap. Firstly it works on a membership basis. On registration, members pay for a one-time in-home introduction session of $150 plus an annual administration fee of $99.00. Thereafter there is a monthly membership fee of $99.00 plus what the company calls four minimum monthly Daily Doggy Time usage days at $45.00 per day. Members are not required to take out a Flexpetz dog for any set number of days, but they are still billed for a minimum of four days regardless of actual usage.
Further surfing on the website reveals that the dogs rented out in this scheme “are rescues or in urgent need of re-homing. Sometimes we have little or no history on a dog,” says the informational text, “which means spending lots of time and money to bring them back to a healthy state, both in body and mind…”
“It’s a ridiculous concept,” says Shelagh MacDonald Program Director of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. “Dogs find it stressful moving homes with families they love. It’s their nature to thrive on companionship, routine and familiarity. Even when it comes to going for their daily walks, they are quite happy to walk the same route every single day.
“By renting out pets, you are completely overlooking the message of responsibility and commitment that is the very essence of spending time with a companion animal. There may be benefits for the renter but certainly not for the dog. They are not commodity items.
“Further, there is no emotional commitment with a rental contract. So no matter how hard you screen, at the end of the day, it’s not their dog so who is to say what will happen if the dog does something irritating or frustrating.”
Well known dog trainer and animal welfare campaigner Jean Donaldson echoed the same sentiments.
“It goes against the very essence of that wonderful human–animal bond. Dogs thrive on routine and when you are constantly fracturing bonds, it can lead to stress and all kinds of behavioral problems.
“It’s tough enough when their humans take a vacation once a year without them. To have this as a day-to-day or week-to-week reality, however convenient for the ‘consumer,’ it’s rough on the dog.”
For anyone who misses the company of dogs, there are lots of wonderful volunteer options to help out in animal shelters and dog adoption drives. Dog lovers are always willing to have friends along when take their furry companions to the dog park or on special outings. These days there are also a plethora of pet events such as yappy hour get-togethers that you can attend too.
And if you have disposable income, instead of paying away memberships fees and daily rental charges, any animal shelter will be able to offer dozens of ways to put your doggy dollars to good use.
For anyone suffering from doggy withdrawal, MacDonald suggests offering to look after a friend’s pets for a couple of days.
Repeated phone calls to Flexpetz chief executive and founder Marlena Cervantes as well as to the company’s public relations department had the soft jazz sounds of Dave Brubeck playing Take Five in my ear and then eventually there was a switch-over to voice mail. Neither the calls nor the subsequent emails were returned.
Perhaps they’ve gotten the message …
There is currently an online petition that can be signed: