Hannah the Pet Society, a "pet-leasing" company that opened in 2010, basically has pets for rent, so that people can learn the joys of having pets without the cost, and without the anxiety and anguish that can come with ill health, or having to find it a new home. Hannah purports to provide all of a pet's monthly food and veterinary care for a flat fee, which sounds like a bargain for people who otherwise can't afford to have a pet. According to their website, they provide all veterinary care, all food, and other supplies, and even training and support for their "pet parents." The vet care supposedly includes routine, preventative, and emergency care, along with worming and other anti-parasitic treatments, dental treatments, and more. The food is "wholesome and all natural," and delivered to your door every six to eight weeks.
The training they provide for both pets and pet parents, plus their computer matching system, are intended to help people and pets learn to get along and develop the ideal relationship so that the pets stay in their homes.
Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? Somebody out there finally figured out how to take the guesswork and challenges out of choosing and caring for pets, and that can only lead to good, right? Not so fast. According to "Oregon Live," "renting" a pet includes signing a contract, as well as termination fees. Depending on the animal's age, you might have to sign on for a time commitment, after which you have the option of buying out of your contract, a cost that can reach upwards of $600.
If your pet gets sick, you can't take it to the vet of your choice; you have to see one of their vets. Furthermore, you have no say in the animal's care, so you get all of the worry and angst, and have none of the decision-making abilities. In other words, you, the pet parent, might want to simply go with the vet's recommendations for treatment, but Hannah may decide otherwise, and stick you with the burden of actually carrying out a possibly less effective--or altogether ineffective--treatment.
On Sept. 11, 2013, a story appeared on "Wilamette Week," a website dedicated to politics, news, and talking about what to do around Wilamette, Ore., about Hannah's controversial use of an animal care loophole that allows farmers and ranchers to provide some veterinary care on their own, so long as it's carried out humanely. According to executive director Lori Makinen of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board, this law was never intended to cover pets. Her ability to oversee Hannah is, in her words, "nonexistent."
Hannah has also seen veterinary clinics stop doing business with them, as they feel Hannah's practices are not always in the best interests of their pets. Some of Hannah's own clinics don't even have the necessary equipment, such as an ultrasound machine, to conduct diagnostic tests.
Then there's the fact that it's leasing pets, instead of adopting or buying them outright. So if you and your pet aren't a good match, you can bring them back and they'll find another home for it. Of course, on the surface that may sound better than a shelter, but it isn't. This kind of thing is traumatic for both the family and the pet. Dogs and cats can bond very quickly with their people, and suddenly being given up to go home with a new set of strangers, to a new unfamiliar home with new unfamiliar scents, sights and sounds isn't healthy.
The whole concept is bad for pets and for people, and appears geared more toward profiting off of treating pets like products, rather than like companions, friends, members of families, indeed, like the actual living creatures that they are. If you want to get a pet, do it the right way. Adopt. Don't "rent" from a company that has neither the pet's best interests, nor your best interests, at heart.