In an age where we can hire pretty much anything, it is no surprise that one US-based company, called FLEXPETZ, has come up with the idea of rental dogs. This service provides clients with an array of canine friends to choose from and then rents them out for however long suits the clients.
This controversial service is now coming under fire from animal rights groups and dog lovers as it plans to extend its services abroad. While FLEXPETZ promotes the service as a great way to keep dogs socialised and convenient for dog lovers who cannot take care of a dog full time, animal rights groups say the service as unethical and disruptive for a dogs emotional state of mind. Dogs Life finds out what this controversy is all about.
What is FLEXPETZ?
FLEXPETZ is a service that provides members with access to a catalogue of fully trained dogs that are rescued or in need of rehoming. These dogs are between two and three years of age and available in a variety of breeds and sizes to suit members individual needs and lifestyle.
Members can spend anywhere from a few hours or a few days with their chosen dog.
Membership costs cover the expense of training the dogs, boarding them at a cage-free kennel, liability insurance, global positioning devices, veterinary bills and care kits (leashes, bowels, food and beds).
All dogs are veterinary checked every three months to ensure good physical and mental health.
FLEXPETZ believes this service is necessary for people who are not able to give a dog full-time care. Such examples include families who travel frequently, have restrictions on dog ownership by landlords, strata or suffer from a busy schedule.
FLEXPETZ claim many people work long hours, travel frequently or have housing/jobs/activities that are not dog friendly. Members are mostly people who realise that full-time dog ownership would not be a viable option for them, and thus unfair on a dog.
When not with members, all FLEXPETZ dogs live in a home environment with a primary carer. FLEXPETZ are happy to adopt out their dogs if a members circumstances change or if they simply fall in love with their chosen canine and cannot stand the thought of handing them back. FLEXPETZ anticipates many of their members adopting their dogs, and thus has a high rotation of new dogs in training.
All FLEXPETZ members are screened, and a great deal of information is required to ensure the dogs will be properly looked after by responsible clients. Each member must undergo a small training session and meet the dogs in the presence of a certified dog trainer.
All members receive personal information about their chosen FLEXPETZ dog.
What is the controversy?
Tristan Ingle, a veterinary science student at the University of Sydney, has started a petition with the support of the Faculty of Veterinary Science against the introduction of this rent-a-pet service into NSW.
Ingle claims this service does irreparable psychological damage to the dogs and likens the service to parents having the joy of children without the responsibility. He also claims this business will appeal to dog likers and not dog lovers.
Ingle believes the service is fundamentally flawed because it goes against the social and emotional needs of the dog. Dogs require a stable, established social hierarchy in order to be mentally and emotionally healthy, he said.
Ingle likens this to sending your child to a different school every week, and emphasises the impact this would have on their social and emotional needs. Ingle argues that because these dogs are rescued, they are completely unsuitable for a job which places them in perpetual abandonment.
Dogs Life spoke with Jane Speechley, spokeswoman for the RSPCA, which also has concerns when it comes to the concept of leasing out dogs.Pet ownership is a privilege not a right and the welfare of the animals involved must be of utmost consideration, she told Dogs Life.
Speechley emphasised that a pet is a friend for life, not a toy or accessory to have around when convenient.
Both Ingle and Speechley suggest a suitable alternative would be to participate in one of the many foster care schemes offered by animal welfare organisations, such as the RSPCA, as such places are always in search of volunteers who can walk and care for the dogs.