Marlena Cervantes, 30, of Big Sky, Mont., is the owner of FlexPetz, which she described as
unique concept for dog lovers who are unable to own a pet, but miss spending time with a dog.
Most interest was from professionals living in metropolitan areas.
They had the money but not the time to own a pet full time, Ms. Cervantes said.
There are no brick-and-mortar FlexPetz offices; instead, the operation is run out of existing dog day-care centers.
Clients pay a $299 startup fee, including the first month’s rental in advance, and $49.95 per month, plus an additional fee each time they take out a dog. The clients must make a minimum one-year commitment.
We’ll probably be in Boston by midsummer, she said.
State Rep. Paul K. Frost, R-Auburn, and state Sen. Edward M. Augustus Jr., D-Worcester, filed legislation Feb. 21 to ban pet rentals in Massachusetts. Also signing were Sen. Robert A. Antonioni, D-Leominster; Rep. Bradford Hill, R-Ipswich; and Reps. John P. Fresolo, D-Worcester, Stephen R. Canessa, D-New Bedford; Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera, D-Springfield; Thomas P. Kennedy, D-Brockton; Denis E. Guyer, D-Dalton; Kay S. Khan, D-Newton; Denise Provost, D-Somerville; Jennifer M. Callahan, D-Sutton; and William N. Brownsberger, D-Belmont.
The legislation is in the House Committee on Rules. It prohibits the business of renting dogs and cats. I have not heard of a legitimate business like this. The MSPCA and dog officers in other towns oppose this business, Mr. Frost said. Guide dogs and working dogs are exempted. Mr. Frost said he is a dog lover and owner of a chocolate Labrador retriever named Reeses and a golden retriever named Snickers.
I know what kind of bond there is with a dog. You don’t rent out members of your family, he said.
I normally side with the free market, which dictates what is successful, but this is breaking new ground. Concerns are valid. The legislation deserves a public hearing. Let’s give the company a chance to show the benefits of this business, and let’s give a voice to those who have concerns. Are we fostering disposable pets? I’m not sure that fosters responsibility.
Mr. Frost said he was first contacted on this issue by Auburn Dog Officer Kathleen M. Sabina, who yesterday said she is appalled by the FlexPetz concept.
I can’t think of a dog that would flourish in that situation. These people want an animal but no responsibility. I’m furious about this. There’s a lot of money to be made exploiting animals, she said.
She suggested that potential renters instead
help an elderly neighbor with their dog, walk a friend’s dog or volunteer at a shelter. Animals need consistency. Each person expresses love differently. In my mind, this is like rent-a-kid. If you wouldn’t rent your child, don’t rent a dog. …
—Worcester Telegram and Gazette News (2008-03-05): Fangs bared over
rent-a-dog: Fido-for-hire service facing legislative ban
Apparently, you shouldn’t rent family members. You must buy them, like a responsible family-owner.