“There was absolutely zero plan to go and get a dog. It was just a trip to the mall,” Brianna Kauble said.
Watching his kids play with puppies, William Kauble decided to buy Guinness. He signed a contract, thinking he was paying $1,800 on credit. He wanted to surprise his kids, but it was William Kauble who was surprised.
After taking the puppy home, he learned he had leased a dog.
“I was like dude, this is not a car, motorcycle or house, it’s a dog. I said no way this can be legal, it’s a living thing. It’s a dog,” said William Kauble.
The dog lease, through a company called Wags Financial of Nevada, is perfectly legal. The terms were 29 lease payments of $141 a month. You can return the dog or buy it at the end of the lease, just like a car. Their $1,800 dog would end up costing them more than $4,200 to buy.
The paperwork clearly stated lease, but the Kaubles said they were too busy playing with their new puppy to take the time to read it.
“It’s an impulse buy. You’re excited, not going to read it,” said Brianna Kauble.
The Kaubles were shocked when they read the fine print. It states even if you make your payments on time Wags can repossess your dog at any time if you don’t meet their standards for dog care, including grooming, bathing, nutrition and exercise.
“My wife and kids are attached to the dog. It’s part of the family. You ain’t taking nothing,” said William Kauble.
The Kaubles said they feel tricked the salesperson did not say anything about the lease.
WSBTV found two complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau in Atlanta, and many more with the Federal Trade Commission from consumers who said the same thing.
“Nothing is divulged to you. It’s you got accepted. You have this credit and can take her home,” Brianna Kauble said.
Animal rescue groups are appalled at the thought of dog leasing, that consumers could fall in love with a cute puppy and simply return it if they can’t handle it.
“When you are leasing a dog they will walk you out the door and you are not prepared when that little puppy becomes 80 pounds,” said Christina Hill, director of Marketing for the Atlanta Humane Society.
A dog lease can also impact your credit. The Kaubles were buying a house when they signed the dog lease and a $5,000 liability turned up on their credit report jeopardizing their home purchase.
“If I had known that I would have been like, ‘Hold it for a couple days,’ and paid cash,” said William Kauble.
Leasing is highly profitable and Wags Lending is also writing leases on wedding dresses, hearing aids and custom auto rims.
WSBTV consumer adviser Clark Howard says beware of any contract that says lease.
“With leasing people really aren’t truly aware of what they are paying. That is why leasing is such an incredibly popular business,” said Howard.
“They will finance anything, but you pay an outrageous amount for it,” said Brianna Kauble.
After the Kaubles complained about their lease to a local television station, Wags Financial agreed to let them pay $1,800 cash for Guinness and let them out of their lease.
If you can’t afford to buy an expensive dog, you can rescue one from your local shelter.
The Atlanta Humane Society says their adoption fee is $265 and that comes with a complete vet checkup.