New law bans practice of repossessing pets

Photo courtesy of the New York State Senate
Sen. Carl Marcellino, picture above, sponsored a new law that prohibits pet dealers from repossessing companion animals as part of the financing agreement with pet owners.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a law that will ban pet financing agreements in New York state, a practice that can lead to predatory leasing and trauma for the animals and their owners.

Specifically, the new law will prohibit the use of a dog or a cat as security for payments in contracts and financing agreements with pet dealers.

Bill S.7415-c/A.10082-b, was delivered to Gov. Cuomo on September 20, 2018 and was signed on September 24, 2018.

The legislation will go into effect in late December of this year.

In their legislation, the bill sponsors say pet “leasing” — essentially using the cat or dog that is being being financed as collateral for the loan — is a predatory practice that prays on people who cannot always afford a companion animal.

Many of those financing their pet do not understand they are entering into a lease agreement for an animal for multiple months. In the process, the pet owners are forced to pay far more than they realized, often facing balloon payments at the end of the loan.

Until this new laws was signed, pet dealers could take the animal back, traumatizing both the pet and their owner.

Rhode Island and California have already outlawed this practice.

The bill passed in the Senate in a 61-to-0 vote with equally strong support in the Assembly.

According to the bill’s Senate sponsor, Carl Marcellino, the bill was introduced because many people leasing pets do not, at first, realize the extent of the payments they will have to make while leasing a companion animal, and they end up paying far more than they previously anticipated.

“Bringing a dog or cat home is both memorable and exciting. At that moment of purchase, the focus is on a new family member, not the fine print in the contract,” said Marcellino, R-Syosset.

“Imagine the bewilderment of some customers when they find out months later they do not actually own their new pet, but instead, are locked into a rent-to-own scheme. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation into law, ensuring that no pet owner or pet have to experience this harmful practice ever again.”

The Assembly sponsor, Matthew Titone, D-North Shore, added that animals are not objects and having their lives being toyed with by leasing companies can be very emotionally damaging to the animals as well as those leasing the animals.

“We are not talking about cars or furniture here. These are our pets that we have opened our homes and hearts to,” Titone said. “We cannot allow this practice, which commodifies our companions without much regard for their mental well-being — while also deceiving New Yorkers — to continue any longer. Pet leasing is a predatory practice that preys on people who cannot always afford a companion animal. This bill will finally put an end to this deceptive practice in New York.”