Rent-A-Pet. Need a date, trying to meet new singles, or just lonely and looking for some companionship? Well, why not rent-a pet? Now-days you can rent almost anything and today even pets have been added to the list. Renting pets for profit is actually a new concept welcomed by those too busy to commit to full time pet ownership, or need a quick pet to attract attention. Some say this represents the disposability of pets in our culture, and to counter the trend, some cities including Massachusetts and Boston recently banned pet rental services; San Francisco is considering a similar ban. Others enjoy the opportunity to enjoy a pet for a day. For example an animal shelter in Colorado allows residents and tourists take out dogs, free of charge, for a day around town. The Ritz-Carlton in Beaver Creek, Colo., for the last several years had an “in house” dog that greets guests in the lobby and occasionally accompanies them on hikes or stays in their rooms.
Some European countries such as Japan, where space is quite limited, have engaged in pet rentals for some time with good results. A California-based shared pet ownership business, called FlexPetz, sprouted up in Los Angeles and quickly spread to New York City and London. The business had planned to expand to other U.S. metropolitan areas and overseas in 2008, but put their plans on hold as they wage battles against public opinion.
Many veterinarians who focus on animal welfare and behavior issues don’t see the harm in shared pet ownership agreements that are well-run and put the best interest of the pets before the buck.
Representatives from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Committee are naturally concerned about potential liability issues.
Most FlexPetz, dogs were rescues that went through a strict training program and had a physical exam every three months. The company interviewed customers and matched pets with people according to their personality. For just under $300 a month, FlexPetz members got four days of “doggy time,” and the dogs were fitted with GPS tracking collars with temperature sensors and sent off with their temporary masters with portion appropriate sized containers of holistic chow.
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