Families that risked losing their adopted dogs to repossession are being reimbursed $126,000 after Attorney General Maura Healey’s office went after two Nevada companies for the practice which is illegal in Massachusetts.
The reimbursements settle state claims against Credova Financial and Nextep Holdings that were filed in Suffolk Superior Court. Healey’s office said the companies violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and other state laws by originating and holding leases for hundreds of dogs.
“Getting a dog can be a significant emotional and financial investment for many families, so when the dog is used as collateral in a lease, the end result can be expensive and heartbreaking,” said Healey.
As part of the settlement, the companies will transfer full ownership of dozens of dogs to families, return any amounts collected since Jan. 1, cancel any balances and pay the state $50,000.
In some states, pet stores may offer the option of leasing as an alternative way to finance a dog. Under such an arrangement, the consumer must make monthly payments to the finance company for the duration of the lease. To buy the dog at the end of the lease, the consumer must make yet another payment to the finance company to finally own the dog. If a consumer misses a payment, the dog can be repossessed, just like a leased car.
The attorney general’s office said dog leases are illegal here and often an expensive way to purchase a dog. “They often carry high finance charges, which can range from hundreds of dollars to more than a thousand dollars, depending on the lease term and the dog’s purchase price.”