Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pet rentals

Joanna sent me a really interesting article, which I thought I'd share here.

It's about a company called FlexPetz - a company that lets you "rent" dogs for a certain period of time. It's geared to people who don't have the time or resources to keep a pet full-time, but still want to enjoy some of the benefits of having an animal.

An excerpt:
In early 2007, Marlena Cervantes founded FlexPetz, a pet-sharing service that allows members to rent out dogs for a few hours or days at a time. Since then the small business—the first of its kind in the U.S.—has expanded rapidly from San Diego and opened branches in Los Angeles, Manhattan, and, most recently, in London. The company's website lists plans to open soon in San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, and Paris, France.

But in recent weeks, lawmakers have begun taking steps to ban a practice critics call emotionally harmful to the animals.

It's an interesting concept. What do you think? I'm not sure. I can see some positives, especially because I'm a huge pet lover and I've been in positions where I have been unable to own one (for example, in college - I missed having cats sooo much). However, I can also see the negatives - what type of emotional affect does this have on the pet? What's the focus of the company - making money or really providing the service? Who takes care of the dogs' vet bills and makes sure they are healthy? How do you guard against possible abuse?

It seems, though, that laws are being passed to prevent FlexPetz from operating in certain cities in the U.S. (like Boston, for example). It seems this might be the end of the company:
"In response to inquiries from NEWSWEEK about the effect the legislation will have on FlexPetz growth, CEO and founder Cervantes said that as a result of the recent legislation, she has decided to "shelve" operations in the US and London, and that each pet in all FlexPetz locations will be offered to a renter for adoption."

Interesting things to ponder. Thanks, Joanna!

A dog for a day? Lawmakers take action against "pet rental" companies

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Anonymous Cogitations said...

That is interesting. I can't help but wonder if someone wanted to go on vacation, could they volunteer their pet to be a part of the program for that week or two and then take them back? Basically, free care for your pet while you are gone.

Also, in regards to the emotional issues for the pet, I can't imagine it would be difficult for the right pet with the right disposition. For example, I have heard of children's hospitals having dogs to go around and lift the spirits of the children. The children in the hospital come and go which you would think would cause some emotional distress but apparently it doesn't. I suppose this program would be different though since in the hospitals the animals at least have a consistent building and nurses.

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

Anonymous: I think the difference with the hospital program is that usually those pets have one consistent owner or caretaker, and that provides the stability that the pets need. I looked into one of those programs for my cat, and that was how they worked. (I think it's a great program by the way.)

I could see how a pet rental program would work, but I think it would be VERY easy to cross the line to be negative for the animals.

Anonymous Cogitations said...

I totally agree with you; it would be very easy to cross the line.