Rooney protects pet owners from expensive leasing contracts

WYCKOFF, N.J. – New Jersey would become the third state to outlaw the leasing of dogs and cats under legislation (A3970) introduced by Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney making the practice a violation of the consumer fraud law.

Breeders and pet stores are under pressure to sell puppies while they are still young and most attractive to buyers. With the skyrocketing cost of dogs, especially purebreds and designer breeds, they have turned to predatory and deceitful contracts.

“They target families who fall in love with a dog or cat that they can’t afford. They sign up for what they think is a simple payment plan, an offer too good to be true,” said Rooney (R-Bergen. “They sign a lease without understanding the fine print or knowing the total cost.”

Rooney explained that when the lease is up, usually in three years, there is still a final payment that must be made before ownership of the dog or cat is transferred, which can be considerably higher.

“The lease can double or triple the cost, and with some dogs priced as high as $5,000, it can add up fast. Families can suffer a serious financial hit, and if they miss a payment, the family pet can be repossessed,” said Rooney. “You’re not buying a dog – you are renting it.”

California and Nevada passed bans on pet leasing last year, bills have been introduced in several other states.

Rooney’s bill establishes a penalty of $10,000 for leasing a dog or cat, and $20,000 per additional violations.