Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Jersey looks to ban pet leasing

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Pet leasing would be prohibited in New Jersey if a bill endorsed by an Assembly committee makes it into law.

Pet leasing is a relatively recent trend that is panned by critics as deceptive to consumers. Here’s how it works: pet stores lure customers in with a cute but expensive pet. Then the customers sign what they believe is a loan that will allow them to make low monthly payments for the pet.

But it’s not really a loan; it’s a lease. And customers often don’t realize it until it’s too late.

Such leases aren’t offered everywhere, and stores that do suggest it as an alternative that costs less money up front.

Some shoppers don’t realize the additional expenses they incur and that they don’t actually own their dog or cat for a few years.

At the end of the lease term, which might last several years, the customer may be forced to return their beloved pet or purchase the dog outright … for an additional payment. When all is said and done, the purchase could ultimately cost a consumer many times the animal’s original price tag, which can already range from $1,000 to $5,000.

Throughout the lease period, the lending companies often aggressively pursue payments, reminding the puppy’s purchasers of their right to repossess the pet in the event they fall behind or can’t keep up with the payments.

The bill (A4552) was approved by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee last week and if signed into law would levy steep fines against pet stores or breeders that lease cats or dogs.

“Families fall in love with a dog or cat that they can’t afford, and the breeders sign them up for a payment plan,” Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, R-Bergen, a bill sponsor, said in a statement.

Three states — California, Nevada and New York — already ban such leases.

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