Dogs for lease? Pet owners say they were misled about financing

The Cittadino family fell in love with a playful golden retriever named Max at Shake-A-Paw in Lynbrook, Long Island, two years ago and needed to have him.

"Went to the room, started playing with him and that was it. They said, 'We'll check your credit,'" Ralph Cittadino said. "They came back, said, 'Your financing will be for this much.' Never said anything about a loan."

The Cittadinos had been paying $145.19 a month for nearly two years to the lender, Wags Lending, until they say the lender threatened the family. If they didn't make the final lease payment of more than $300, they'd have to give Max back.

"They said we were renting our dog when we called up the company itself, the third-party lender. I was like 'Renting my dog? That's not moral,'" Cittadino said. "That's my dog. It's part of my family. It's like my son."

Shake-A-Paw said it paid the last payment and stopped leasing and financing altogether for customers as of August 31. But this wasn't the only case.

Now local officials are calling on the governor to end this deceptive practice in New York State.

"The pet owners don't even realize that they're leasing—they think they're just paying the dog off," Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito said. "If they can't make the payment, just like your home or car, they can get repossessed."

Max's grandma says it's about time they put an end to this.

"I am a dog owner myself, I've have had several dogs over my lifetime," Isober Trani said. "They are not considered chattel. They are considered family members."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has until the end of the year to sign the legislation that passed in Albany.

Wags Lending did not respond to a request for a comment.