Flex-Petz who has offices in San Diego, New York and Los Angeles, planned to add to her money making enterprise by opening another in Boston by this summer but if Massachusetts legislators have their way, not there she won’t.

I’ve already made my thoughts and opinions on Flex-Petz pretty clear. I don’t like it and it seems the powers that be in Massachusetts don’t either along with many others, including many animal advocacy groups and trainers.

“This promotes dogs as disposable items,” said Bryn Conklin, an animal protection specialist at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“Dogs need stability in their lives, they need a long-term commitment and they need a secure environment,” said Ray McSoley, a dog trainer who called the company a “four-legged escort service.”

“It’s incredibly disrespectful to the dog, and it’s also disrespectful to the renter because it devolves the purpose of having a dog in your life. There is no commitment there.”

State Rep. Paul K. Frost, R-Auburn, and state Sen. Edward M. Augustus Jr., D-Worcester, filed legislation Feb. 21 to ban pet rentals in Massachusetts. Also signing were Sen. Robert A. Antonioni, D-Leominster; Rep. Bradford Hill, R-Ipswich; and Reps. John P. Fresolo, D-Worcester, Stephen R. Canessa, D-New Bedford; Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera, D-Springfield; Thomas P. Kennedy, D-Brockton; Denis E. Guyer, D-Dalton; Kay S. Khan, D-Newton; Denise Provost, D-Somerville; Jennifer M. Callahan, D-Sutton; and William N. Brownsberger, D-Belmont.

“The legislation is in the House Committee on Rules. It prohibits the business of renting dogs and cats. I have not heard of a legitimate business like this. The MSPCA and dog officers in other towns oppose this business,” Mr. Frost said. Guide dogs and working dogs are exempted. Mr. Frost said he is a dog lover and owner of a chocolate Labrador retriever named Reeses and a golden retriever named Snickers.

“I know what kind of bond there is with a dog. You don’t rent out members of your family,” he said.

“I normally side with the free market, which dictates what is successful, but this is breaking new ground. Concerns are valid. The legislation deserves a public hearing. Let’s give the company a chance to show the benefits of this business, and let’s give a voice to those who have concerns. Are we fostering disposable pets? I’m not sure that fosters responsibility.”

Mr. Frost said he was first contacted on this issue by Auburn Dog Officer Kathleen M. Sabina, who yesterday said she is appalled by the FlexPetz concept.

“I can’t think of a dog that would flourish in that situation. These people want an animal but no responsibility. I’m furious about this. There’s a lot of money to be made exploiting animals,” she said.

She suggested that potential renters instead “help an elderly neighbor with their dog, walk a friend’s dog or volunteer at a shelter. Animals need consistency. Each person expresses love differently. In my mind, this is like rent-a-kid. If you wouldn’t rent your child, don’t rent a dog. We have enough bad dog owners. We don’t need bad dog renters.”

Paul Waldau, director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, said, “I think renting dogs is a sad idea.”

He applauded Ms. Cervantes for working with autistic children, but said of FlezPetz: “This isn’t therapeutic, it’s commercial. The happy, friendly dogs they take from the shelter would seem to be the ones that would be adopted first. We would be appalled if this was done to children.”

Jo Jacques, a certified dog behavior consultant in Salem, said, “Anyone who cares about companion animals is opposed to FlexPetz. If people want to spend time with an animal, shelters are crying out for volunteers.” (Worcester Telegram)

As far as I can see, it’s just another way to exploit dogs for money. Sure, it’s not in the same league as puppy mills and dog fighting but we turned dogs into companion animals and need to accept that responsibility. They crave a social and settled life, not a life where they are shuttled here and there, whenever, at the whim of someone for a buck.

Then, to top it off, they get their dogs from shelters, excellent! But what they dog it take the best, most adoptable dog available and use them. These are dogs that could most likely be placed in loving forever homes, instead they become occasional playmates for the highest bidder. Flex-Petz is not cheap, it’s definitely a money making enterprise.

You start with a $300 initiation fee then there’s the weekend day fee of $39.95. Dog drop-off and pickup at a home or office is an additional $35. An “inconvenience fee” of $75 a day is added for dogs brought back late. Oh, and don’t forget to add in the monthly $49.95 as well and ‘clients’ have to commit to a year contract. That comes up to almost a thousand dollars a year, just for the contract fees before you even add in the fee every time you ‘rent’ the dog. WOW!! That’s some pretty expensive dogs.

They call it ‘Shared Ownership,’ I call it exploitation. And now they even offer ‘Doggie Ambassadors’ if you have a business like a hotel and want to offer your guests a dog to walk or play with. There’s also something called Flex-Petz Island where you can get a ‘virtual companion.’ Looks like they’re really trying to tap all the markets they can and reap the financial rewards… on the backs of dogs.

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