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Dog rental company has people growling

by Therese on July 1, 2008

in Animals in the News, Dogs

20080701lhasa.jpgThe Boston city council held a hearing yesterday to hear what people had to say about FlexPetz, a dog rental company, planning to open an office in Boston. The city council is considering a ban on pet rentals.

In case you’re not familiar with FlexPetz, it’s a company that provides dogs to people on a rental basis. Rather than owning their own dogs, people pay to have the dog with them for a few hours or a few days. When they’re done with the dog for the specified time, the dog moves on to another part-time owner. Needlesss to say, it’s a highly controversial concept among dog lovers.

Critics pounced on the concept of part-time pooches during a City Council hearing yesterday, backing Boston’s proposed ban on pet rentals.

But the founder of Flex- Petz, a San Diego firm eyeing an expansion of its canine membership club to the Hub, bit in to those who are blasting her business.

“The strong objection to us comes from people who have never contacted us, have never set foot in one of our facilities, have never spoken to me regarding all the features of the program,” said Marlena Cervantes, FlexPetz’s founder. “We’ve had this knee-jerk reaction in Boston and it’s really unfair.”

Cervantes didn’t attend yesterday’s meeting. City councilors heard arguments ranging from the legal issue of who is liable if a rented dog bites someone, to the potentially destabilizing effect of moving pets from place to place.

“I speak for the thousands of pet owners, professionals and true lovers of animals,” said Ray McSoley, an animal behavior expert. “They sit with me, in chorus, urging you to pass the act prohibiting the rental of pets.”


No one at the hearing opposed the ban, and no one representing FlexPetz attended.

Read the rest here.

I find it quite interesting that the founder of the company didn’t find it important enough to attend a meeting to defend her own company. Maybe she’s having some second thoughts?

One of the arguments the owner of FlexPetz uses in defending her business is that many of the rental dogs are former rescues. As a couple of my Twitter friends put it though, why not just volunteer at a shelter? There are plenty of dogs there that need some love and attention…and a good home.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mikey July 1, 2008 at 12:49 pm

I guess if these are shelter dogs that would otherwise have no home (and probably be dead anyway), then why not.

Yes, it is hard on the dog to not have a big connection to one person, but is this any different than “Concierge” dogs in hotels? And let’s face it, mags like Fido Friendly pretty much glorify hotel dogs. I don’t understand that actually…..

However, I would second the suggestion that if people really need to walk a dog, join up with a rescue group and make yourself useful. You don’t need to make a life commitment to a dog, so that is perfect for someone who’s life is chaotic, or who cannot afford a dog.


Fuzzy Logic July 1, 2008 at 1:08 pm

The reason these people dont’ volunteer at a shelter is because it’s not about the dogs. .. it’s about them.. and if they go to a shelter they might actually have to deal with the conditions there.. and then feel bad because they have to put them back in a box… when they rent a pet they don’t have that unneccesarry guilt.. after all the dog “has a home”.


jo July 1, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Having been involved in shelters and rescues all over the country for more than 10 years now, I can tell you that NO shelter or rescue will give a dog to anyone who is planning on renting it out. Studies show that dogs who are rehomed multiple times develop many behavior issues due to lack of consistency and human-animal bonding. We’ve helped dogs evolve in such a way that human contact is needed by them; in a study out of Hungary recently, the biggest difference between a wolf and a dog is that a dog will look to a HUMAN for assurance, NOT another dog. I’ve also been in contact with people involved in the care of the Flex-Petz dogs on the west coast, and they are already seeing multiple issues, including sterotypies and OCD behaviors, in the rental dogs. Let me put it this way: Would YOU let a complete stranger take YOUR loved dog home for a day or two?


Therese July 1, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Hi Jo, thanks for your insight. I haven’t worked in rescue and am not a trained dog trainer. However I’ve done both on my own and I’ve seen dogs that have been bounced from here to there and have seen some of the issues you mentioned. It doesn’t take a genius to understand stability is more beneficial for a dog.

And to answer your question about complete strangers taking my dog home. HECK NO!! I’m nervous enough knowing my dog is spending the day at the vet’s office today!


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