I offer you this open letter to the lawmakers of Massachusetts now that this state has been recently targeted by the pet rental service FlexPetz. FlexPetz is a now-national chain providing pet rental services to those who would enjoy a pet but are unable or unwilling to make a firm commitment to one.

I’ve written about this issue before, which is why I was approached by a Massachusetts reader with the intelligence of the company’s plans to enter their state later this year. One State Rep there has already penned a bill designed to prohibit pet rentals. My letter below supports its passage.

Esteemed members of the Massachusetts State Legislature:

Recent economic developments within the companion animal industry have led to the proliferation of new products and services for pets and their owners. While most of these are welcome changes to a culture shifting its values increasingly in favor of pets as family members, some have surfaced merely to exploit the popularity of pets in our society.

In this case, I call your attention to the emerging commercial practice of renting or leasing pets with the intent of profiting from their temporary or episodic placement in homes, as introduced by the company FlexPetz in California.

Those of us who care for companion animals in a veterinary setting, as I do in Florida, have determined this practice to be fraught with numerous pitfalls for the animals involved. Moreover, it is the general view among many veterinarians and pet welfare advocates that such a practice encourages the communal perception of pets as disposable property.

It is my position that the establishment of such commercial enterprises sets a precedent for animal use, one which threatens to degrade the laudable (and increasingly effective) work of those increasing adoption rates of pets in shelters nationwide and in Massachusetts in particular. Ultimately, a culture sensitized to the disposability of pets is one destined to suffer strain on its public and private resources through increased pet abandonment.

I urge you to evaluate “An Act Prohibiting the Renting of Pets” (H.D. 4864) proposed by Massachusetts State Representative Paul Frost with these cautions in mind. Passing such an act would send a message not only to companies who would exploit our pets in novel ways, it would also serve as a model for our entire country as to how responsible stewardship for pets is best achieved—by rejecting practices which would undermine their stable role in society.

Thank you for your attention to this worthy matter.

Patty Khuly, VMD MBA


P.S. Feel free to write your own versions and forward them to Email Rep. Angelo Scaccia who chairs the House Committee on Rules: [email protected]

Ask that "An Act Prohibiting the Renting of Pets" (H.D. 4864) be moved without delay into the appropriate committee.