Report warns of ‘pet leasing’ contracts

Animal lovers are calling attention to a scheme being used by some pet stores, according to a “CBS This Morning” report.

Customers said they believed they were taking out loans to finance and own high-priced pets. Instead, they claim they were duped into signing lease agreements, that cost them thousands of dollars.

A Connecticut woman said she thought she was taking out a $3,000 loan to buy two dogs at a pet store in 2015. Courtney Peterman signed a contract, made her first payment of $185 and took the dog home.

Eighteen months later, Peterman expected the loan to be paid off, but she called the bank and was told she still had nearly 20 payments to go.

Peterman eventually filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and was able to get out of her lease, but not until she paid nearly $5,600 to own her dogs.

A spokesperson for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said she believes pet stores are purposely dangling low monthly payments to customers in exchange for questionable leases.

“This is simply a business that’s built on deception and cruelty,” said Jennie Lintz, of the ASPCA.

The Federal Trade Commission told “CBS This Morning” that the first question customers need to ask is, “Is this a lease?”

Officials at the FTC said “pet leasing” has been on the agency’s radar for about three years. While it’s not illegal, officials said pet stores can be held responsible. They recommend consumers read these contracts carefully.

Last year, California and Nevada banned pet leasing. This year, New York is expected to become the third state to ban the practice.

You can see the full report here.