When living in an apartment -- or, if you're a college kid, a dorm -- that doesn't allow pets, it's easy for former pet owners to miss the joys of having an animal around. You find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time fawning over a neighbor's pet or browsing PetFinder.com. As a dog lover who hasn't been able to live with her own dog since 2002, I definitely know how it is, believe me! But that doesn't mean I'm a fan of a new puppy rental business started by Brigham Young University student Jenna Miller.
Miller's entrepreneurial endeavor is totally well-meaning. She told the Deseret News, "The first reason I decided to start it is that college students aren't allowed to have pets and a lot of students really miss that, their pets back home." Sweet. But when you take a closer look at her business, Puppies for Rent, you realize it's anything but.
Miller's biz allows people to reserve a puppy for one or more hours ($15 an hour, $25 for two, and $10 for each additional). Money paid by renters reportedly goes toward the adoption fees, if they decide to take a puppy permanently. What's more, renters have to sign contracts, and Miller says, "They're legally protected, we see where they are going and that they are going to a good place." For instance, puppies have been rented for first dates, mothers rewarding their kids, and surprise parties.
She also says she hopes the service will give people the chance to spend time with a puppy before deciding to adopt it -- also a good intention. But the problem is that no matter how good her intentions are, how many repeat customers she has, and no matter if they ultimately become owners or not, puppies shouldn't be treated as rentable play things.
The Utah Humane Society is ethically opposed to what Miller is doing, and rightfully so. Carl Arky, the Humane Society’s Director of Communication, told The Daily Mail:
It's the whole concept of renting puppies out, at a time when they need consistency and stability in their lives. We're philosophically opposed to that.
I've seen firsthand what an inconsistent and unstable environment and caretaker(s) can do to a puppy. Simply put: It screws them up for life. 'Course I'm sure some breeds are able to adapt more readily, but as a result of irresponsible, erratic caretaking, the dog I know struggled with becoming housebroken or learning acceptable behavior. She has trust issues and seems to get nervous and sad much more easily than a dog that was brought up with a consistent family, environment, and above all, routine. So sad.
I would think/hope Miller would have all her clients screened properly, and I'm sure they're all lovely people -- some of whom actually are interested in adopting the rentable pets. But if Miller and the puppy lovers patronizing her new business really wanted what was best for the dogs, they'd realize that finding them a permanent, happy home should be their only goal.
How do you feel about this business?
Image via Ewen Roberts/Flickr