I've just written my next issue's editorial about FlexPetz - the pet rental service about to come from San Francisco to London. I won't repeat what I’ve written verbatim, but I'll just pose the question, "What precisely is it about pet rental that makes people so very angry?"
Puppy farming, dogs in pet shops and animal abuse all hardly get any media coverage these days. But some dotty American lady loaning out dogs to consenting rich adults gets everyone raging and being outraged.
Marlena Cervantes who started FlexPetz is a behaviourist. She's also studied the affects of dogs on autistic children.
She doesn't sound the typical Cruella de Ville-type to me.
But unconditional love for rent does sound incredibly sleazy.
But, she takes unwanted dogs from rescue shelters, trains them to a very high level, socialises them to expect constant changes of surroundings and then rents them to people who might otherwise unwisely impulse purchase a pup.
Marlena spends quite a bit of money on some of the dogs, too - Jackpot (a rescued Lab) needed a 2000-dollar vet bill to sort out his kidney problems before he was fit enough to rent.
Then very rich (dare I say also shallow, fickle and possibly stupid) people pay a lot of money for the convenience of a time-share pet.
Often the dog has as few as three 'share holders' and a permanent caretaker (for any days when no one wants to pay for the dog). Mondays to Thursdays are much cheaper than weekends, as with a rental car – but work commitments mean they’re quiet times.
The clients pay an annual membership; a monthly sub and then they pay per visit, too.
The dogs are fed a consistent supplied diet; all wear GPS devices on their collars and get three monthly check ups at the vet.
Am I a very bad person, but it sounds better than being stuck in a boring kennel or being on doggie death row.
Perhaps we can see these dogs as assistance dogs. They assist Marlene in taking lots of money away from people who are too busy and important to ever train their own dog!
These lovely dogs then give love to some pretty much unlovable rich professional types - but equally, some previously unwanted dogs are spoiled rotten by a succession of people very happy to pay for the privilege.
I'm sorry, but there must be something very wrong with me. I'm finding it quite hard to work myself up into being completely outraged.