Massachusetts Governor Signs Bill Banning Pet Rentals!

Rented pet

Update August 6, 2008: Governor Patrick has signed this bill. It is now illegal in Massachusetts to operate a pet rental business!  That’s 1 for the animals, 0 for the pet trade.

Read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below for information about this new law and the pet rental companies that tried to defeat it.  

Update July 30, 2008: The Senate passed the bill to ban pet rentals in the state. The bill, now numbered H.B. 5006, is awaiting Governor Deval Patrick’s signature. 

Don’t stop now! The Coalition to Prohibit the Renting of Pets (Animal Law Coalition is a member) is calling on you to write or call the governor and urge him to sign this historic and important bill to protect animals in the pet trade. Click here for the governor’s contact information.

The final version of this bill banning pet rentals authorized seizure or impoundment of any "dogs held for … leasing or renting".  A violation of this law means a fine of $100 dollars. A second violation means a fine of not less than $500 dollars. Subsequent violations can mean fines up to $1000 dollars.

Note: If the governor does not sign the bill within ten days, it dies. This is referred to as a "pocket veto." The ten-day period includes every day except Sundays and holidays, and it begins the day after the legislation is laid on the governor’s desk.

For more on this bill including talking points, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below. Update July 22, 2008: The bill banning pet rentals has passed the Massachusetts House!!

Don’t let this seedy business take hold in Massachusetts. Stop the pet trade from further victimizing pets by using them as rentals. 

On July 9, Boston became the first city to prohibit pet rentals.

In an unconfirmed report, Marlena Cervantes, CEO of FlexPetz–a pet rental company that was eyeing a summer 2008 move into Massachusetts–says she is shutting down operations in the United States and the UK, where motions were recently raised in both the English and Scottish Parliaments to ban Flexpetz.

Questions remain as to whether Massachusetts residents who pre-registered for a FlexPetz dog by credit card as required–$150.00 for an in-home orientation plus $99.95 for the first month’s membership fee–will receive refunds.

The effort to prohibit the renting of pets was conducted by the grassroots–animal rescue volunteers, animal welfare experts and unaffiliated individuals, joined only by the Internet, with support from national and local organizations.

Preeminent animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell, PhD, and Raymond McSoley, who founded the Behavior Dept. at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, were among the consulting experts.

Read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below for more information!

Talking Points

Make one or more of the following points if asked why you support HB 5006. Remember to keep it unemotional, and don’t compare animals with children.

Animal behavior, welfare and law professionals warn that pet rental companies:

1. Jeopardize public safety, because frequent transfer of companion dogs and cats from home to home, caregiver to caregiver, increases the likelihood of stress-induced aggression even among otherwise well-trained animals. Renters can’t really know an animal or how to manage his behavior, posing considerable risks to people and other animals in the home, on the street and in parks.

2. Could burden public resources, from law enforcement to shelters, by fostering the attitude that it’s fine to use and return pets on a whim. "Disposable pet syndrome" can only lead to increased animal abandonment and abuse.

3. Discourage the responsible pet stewardship important for harmony and safety in our communities. 

4. Bottom line: Those who have no commitment to a pet are less inclined to care for him properly or keep him from injuring people and damaging property.

Countering FlexPetz Spin

FlexPetz says: It is a viable option for animals surrendered by owners who have lost their homes.

Animal welfare organizations say:  These animals are already stressed; they shouldn’t be bounced around further at potentially great risk to people and other animals. (Stressed animals are prone to bite!)Their best opportunity for a permanent home is with a legitimate shelter or rescue group, which will socialize and ready them for adoption by a lifelong owner. MSPCA, Animal Rescue League, Buddy Dog Humane Society, Friends of the Plymouth Pound and other reputable shelters and rescue groups do NOT provide animals to pet rental companies.

FlexPetz says: Shelters give animals to abusive and neglectful homes.

Animal welfare organizations say: Legitimate shelters and rescue groups conduct exhaustive screening and, in some cases, home visits to ensure animals go only to qualified, lifelong adopters. What’s more, a great effort is made to match the right animal (temperament, age, activity level, etc.) with the right adopter to ensure a long, happy relationship.

Click here for more information on this bill, FlexPetz, and why pets should not be rented, including the landmark decision by the Boston City Council to ban pet renting. 

Click here for a legal perspective on renting pets.

Click here for Animal Law Coalition’s position on pet rentals.


Coalition to Prohibit the Renting of Pets is a grassroots effort of caring individuals, animal behavior and welfare professionals, and animal rescue volunteers with the support of Animal Control Officers Association of Mass., Animal Law Coalition, Animal Rescue League, ASPCA, Boston Dog Rescue, Buddy Dog Humane Society, Friends of the Plymouth Pound,  Humane Society of the United States, MARC, MassPAWS, Milford Humane Society, MSPCA, PETA, Stray Pets in Need and many others.