Targeting what is being called “pet-leasing,” Republican and Democratic lawmakers and animal rights groups convened Wednesday outside the Florida Capitol.
SB 186/HB 363, sponsored by Sen. Annette Taddeo and Rep. Sam Killebrew, seeks to end what they call “deceptive rent-to-own arrangements that are being offered at Florida pet stores and leave consumers and pets at great risk.”
Some pet stores actually use third-party vendors to lease pets to buyers, terms that last for several years, with the leasing family still on the hook for vet fees.
Taddeo, a Miami Democrat, said that people are often bamboozled into “heartbreaking” leasing deals with paper documents with “tons of pages” or similarly dense electronic documents.
“Turn the next page,” Taddeo said, and “before you know it,” the fees pile up via bills with monthly payments.
Killebrew, a Republican from Winter Haven, noted how hard it is to turn down “puppies in the window.”
When informed that the dogs cost thousands of dollars, the lease becomes an attractive option. But that’s short-lived, Killebrew said.
“Dog gets sick, dies, runs away … you still have to pay,” Killebrew noted.
Representatives from animal advocacy groups, including the ASPCA® and Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations, weighed in with support.
The bills still have to traverse the committee process.
SB 186 has yet to be added to the agenda in Judiciary. It would have to clear Banking and Insurance, then Rules, before a floor vote.
HB 363 has the Business and Professions Subcommittee, Civil Justice Subcommittee, and the Commerce Committee ahead.