Rent-a-Pet

Doggy in the window

Massachusetts state Rep. Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn) owns two dogs—Reese’s and Snickers—and they’re not for rent. Frost is a co-sponsor of An Act Prohibiting the Rental of Pets, now in committee in the state legislature, and he has the support of many members of Boston’s animal welfare community in his fight to render part-time pet ownership illegal.

Frost authored the bill after discovering that Flexpetz, a dog rental service that caters to wealthy professionals, planned to expand to Boston. From its current locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York, Flexpetz adopts dogs from shelters and from families who say they can no longer care for them, and it rents them out for hefty fees.

How much is that doggy in the window? Clients pay $280 a month for the privilege of spending four days a month with the rescued canine of their choice. The service caters to dog-loving urbanites who, for a variety of reasons, cannot take care of a dog full-time, and the dogs are also available for adoption to renters who eventually want to commit.

Company founder Marlena Cervantes wants to bring Flex­petz to D.C. and London as well as Boston, but opponents are galvanizing in the Bay State. “Renting encourages us to think of all pets—rented, adopted or purchased—as ‘things’ we enjoy till they’re no longer cute, fun or convenient, then return, like DVDs or cars,” writes Brian Henderson at the webzine DogBoston. For his part, Frost told the Worcester Telegram that he normally “sides with the free market” but feels this is different. “I know what kind of bond there is with a dog. You don’t rent out members of your family.”

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