Pet-friendly S.F. may ban rentals

Renting dogs is akin to renting kids: You just don’t do it, says an animal-welfare commission that is proposing a ban in San Francisco on all animal rentals.

The proposed ban is in response to the dog-rental company Flexpetz’s announcement of opening a location in The City.

The Animal Control and Welfare Commission said it has serious concerns about the concept of pet-renting and is drafting a resolution urging the Board of Supervisors to adopt a new city law banning the rentals. 

“One of the commissioners likened this to renting a kid from an orphanage for a day, and you wouldn’t consider doing that,” commission Chair Sally Stephens said.

San Francisco’s ban would follow that of Massachusetts, which banned anyone from renting dogs or cats in legislation passed in July. The commission’s resolution would recommend banning all pet rentals, not just dogs or cats. The ban in Massachusetts was adopted after Flexpetz announced plans to open a location in Boston.

But in an animal-friendly city such as San Francisco, which has a large population of apartment and condo renters, finding a home for pets is not easy. Many property owners do not allow pets because of the wear and tear on a housing unit. According to 2000 census data, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of households with children among the 50 largest U.S. cities. Many households turn to pets as their focus.

San Francisco is also home to many upscale pet stores, such as Cheeko B Pet Boutique in the Nob Hill area, which specializes in unique treats, collars and beds. In the Bay Area, there also are a number of businesses that provide day care or extended care for animals.

Flexpetz advertises itself as a service for those “unable to own a full-time” dog and also a chance to provide rescue dogs with a “loving environment.” Based in Montana, the company has locations in New York, London, San Diego and Los Angeles. It charges members $100 per month to lease a pet for $45 per day.

If ultimately approved, the rental ban would join a whole host of San Francisco’s prohibitions including bans on plastic bags, chain stores in certain neighborhoods and Segways on city sidewalks.

Commission Vice Chair Andrea Brooks said such pet-renting is harmful to dogs who find short-term arrangements confusing and stressful.

Mark Klaiman, senior counselor at San Francisco’s Pet Camp, said he understands the concerns, but there are other ways to address them instead of a ban.

“It’s telling people who are innovative that this place is not for you,” he said.

Nancy Peterson, issues specialist with the Humane Society of the United States, said the group supported the ban in Massachusetts and would support a ban in San Francisco. “We think pets deserve a lifetime home and by shifting dogs from one home to another could be very stressful for them,” she said.

The commission held a hearing Thursday about the ban and signaled its support. On Oct. 9, the commission plans to vote on whether to approve a resolution urging supervisors to adopt the ban.

Flexpetz officials did not respond to requests for comment.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Flexpetz by the numbers

$99.95 monthly membership fee

$45 each day for dog rental

$150 training fee with company employee

$25 shuttle service for delivering/collecting pet

$75 daily fee for late return of pet

Free package of dog bed, food and water bowls, custom leash

Current Flexpetz locations

New York City

Los Angeles

San Diego

London

Flexpetz locations to open this year

San Francisco

Boston

Washington, D.C.

Paris

How it works

Sign up for membership

Undergo casual training to learn dog commands with company trainer

Reserve dog online

Pick up pet or have it delivered

Source: www.flexpetz.com

My Story

“Why would anyone want to rent a pet?”

Mimi Ahn, 35, landscape architect, San Francisco resident

“But maybe, if they’re rescue animals, it’ll be like foster care — [the renter] will end up loving the pet and wanting to keep it. On the other hand, there could be a stress factor on the pet.”

 

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