Bill would end the use of credit to pay for dogs and cats | News, Sports, Jobs

Submitted Photo Tracy Pennycuick, R-Montgomery, speaks in the state House of Representatives in late January.

A Montgomery County Republican wants to end the practice of borrowing to pay for a dog or cat.

Rep. Tracy Pennycuick, R-Montgomery, sponsored House Bill 2311 amending Title 12 of the state trade and commerce statutes to prohibit funding for a dog or cat. She said a pet owner in her district got into trouble with a funded pet purchase.

“Pet stores and online sellers often push financing on those who can’t afford a puppy (many are selling for thousands of dollars), which has created financial hardship for borrowers who unknowingly end up with extremely high interest rates and hidden fees.” Pennycuick wrote in her law memorandum. “A customer at the Monroeville pet store told the Better Business Bureau that she unknowingly signed up for financing at a 151% interest rate and will end up paying $6,055.40 for a $1,888.31 puppy.”

Illinois passed the Holmes Act (HB 572) in September, which went into effect on January 1st. Humane Society officials said the legislation is a blow to puppy factories, which often sell animals to those who may not be able to afford them and offer loans with high interest rates and hidden fees. Customers at an Illinois pet store complained to state legislators that interest rates were as high as 188%.

“It’s not just happening in payday loan shops, they get away with predatory lending rates of 30% to 150% and up.” said Illinois State Senator Linda Holmes, sponsor of the legislation. “Most pet shops have problems with their animals coming from unscrupulous breeders and puppy mills — some in poor condition — so these consumers can also end up leaving thousands in debt and grief.”

Pennycuick said the problem isn’t just a business in Monroeville. She noticed at least 20 pet stores in the state and several online brokers shipping puppies to customers in Pennsylvania, with third-party financing. Pennycuick’s legislation does not affect pet stores selling puppies and online puppy brokers selling pets, only offering credit to pay for them. Those who buy expensive dogs or cats could use credit cards to pay for them.

“For example, all 20 pet stores that offer financing use Easy Pay Finance, a company with nearly 400 Better Business Bureau complaints and a warning from that the company fails to disclose any suspicious terms and conditions.”terrible customer service” and “outrageously high lending rates“(between 129 and 200% on average)”, Pennycuick wrote.

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