Because Dogs and Cats Aren't Cars: Banning the Renting of Pets
"The Company values property and equipment at cost and depreciates these assets using the straight-line method over their expected useful life. The Company uses a five year life for equipment and seven years for dog purchases."
This is from the annual report of a business that rents dogs to consumers by the hour or the day, as if they were cars--or in the words of the report, a depreciable asset. In 2008, it set its sights on an expansion into Boston. Pet owners, animal rescuers, and animal care and behavior professionals joined forces to form Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets (CPR Pets), to stop it and others that would follow.
Without funding, staff, lobbyists or legislative experience, CPR Pets succeeded in passing a Boston city ordinance and then a Massachusetts state law to prohibit the renting of pets--in just six months. Most legislation takes years to become law, if it ever does.
Both the Boston City Council and Beacon Hill enacted the pet rental ban unanimously.
Why Would Anyone Rent a Pet? For the fun of playing with a dog or cat minus responsibility or commitment. To meet men or women in doggy park. For someone to cuddle on a dateless weekend. There are as many reasons for renting a pet as there are selfish, irresponsible people, none in the animal's best interest.
Animals need consistency, not to be passed from renter to renter, each with different expectations. Imagine the confusion and frustration of the animal who is invited onto the sofa to snuggle one renter, then is swatted with a newspaper for the same behavior in the next person's home.
Why Not Rent a Pet? Treating companion animals as little more than rental property hurts them--and people too.
Constant change stresses animals; stressed animals act out. Rental pets are subjected to frequent changes in location, routine, discipline and attention. It’s a perfect recipe for creating stress, which may be expressed through destructive and aggressive behavior.
Consumers may not appreciate the risk of a lawsuitto which renting a pet could expose them. "Indemnification or liability insurance, if offered by the pet rental company, may not adequately protect people from the stress and/or staggering costs of litigation if their rented pet attacks or even playfully injures someone," according to Atty. Jonathan Stone Rankin.
Rental pets who become chronically ill,are critically injured or develop behavior problems are at great risk. No business will hold “inventory” that costs rather than pays. And though people may provide a lifetime of expensive veterinary care or invest in training for the pets they already own and love, few will adopt medically compromised, anxious or aggressive animals. What do you think happens to unprofitable rental pets?
Abuse of rental pets is less likely to be detected. These businesses are unregulated, and their animals are never in the same place for long. That makes it unlikely protection agencies will know if the animals are being abused—or their fate when they're no longer useful to the business.
Being rented could ruin a companion animal’s chance for a permanent home when the business is done with him or her, explains dog behavior consultant Jo Jacques, CDBC, CPDT, CPCT. “Rental pets will become distrustful of humans; they will withdraw or attack. If they’re not adopted when the business is done with them or it fails? The animals are off to a shelter, but older and more confused than before being rented, and so more likely to be euthanized or spend the rest of their lives in cages.”
Renting promotes “disposable pet syndrome,” thinking of all companion animals as “things” we enjoy till they’re no longer cute or convenient, then dump. That attitude can only lead to increased animal abandonment, adoption returns and abuse.
Pet rental businesses suggest they benefit homeless animals. Not so, according to animal shelters: That's why shelters don’t provide dogs or cats for this purpose. Those who rescue animals recognize the harm of constantly uprooting them. Plus, they point out that pets appealing enough to command usage fees are appealing enough to be adopted and shouldn’t be turned into rental property instead.