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There's a push to end "pet leasing" in Michigan

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Emily Heyboer adopted her poodle Charlie a couple years ago. 

Charlie was expensive, but the pet store offered a monthly billing option.  

It was only later that Heyboer realized she was leasing, not buying her pet, and that Charlie could be repossessed.

“This predatory leasing of pets is just terrible for both the pet owner and the pet and it causes a lot of emotional issues as well as a lot of financial issues for a lot of families,” says Heyboer.

Heyboer eventually spent thousands of dollars above the dog’s original purchase price to buy her dog.

Under legislation (HB 5273) introduced in December, Michigan would join California and New York in banning pet leasing.

Pet leasing is when people agree to pay a monthly fee to take home an expensive breed of dog or some other type of animal. But in the end, they still don’t own their pet. 

State Representative Bill Sowerby (D-Clinton Township) says many pet owners are surprised to learn they still need to pay a large balloon payment at the end of the contract to purchase the animal.

“Having a pet repossessed from you is not like having an inanimate object like a car or furniture repossessed, this is a part of you, part of the family,” says Sowerby.

Sowerby’s bill has been sent to the House Agriculture committee. 

The Michigan Better Business Bureau says it has received a couple of official complaints about pet stores offering leasing contracts.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.