Two Nevada-based companies waived dog-lease balances totaling more than $126,000 after they allegedly illegally leased dogs in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office announced Thursday.
Credova Financial, LLC and Nextep Holdings, LLC allegedly violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and other state laws by leasing hundreds of dogs in the state, Healey’s office said in a statement. Dog leases function similarly to those of cars where the consumer is required to make monthly payments for the duration of the lease before making a final payment and taking ownership of the dog. If a dog owner misses a payment, the dog could be repossessed by the pet store, Healey’s office said.
Dog leases are illegal in Massachusetts and are often expensive due to high finance charges — ranging from hundreds of dollars to more than a thousand.
“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,” Healey said in the statement. “State law clearly prohibits dog leasing for good reason, and our office will not allow companies to exploit Massachusetts families in this manner. We are pleased to be securing monetary relief for these pet owners.”
An investigation by Healey’s office revealed that one or both of the companies, through their subsidiary MyPetFunding, LLC, had been “originating or purchasing leases made to Massachusetts consumers who wanted to purchase dogs from retailers.”
As a result of the settlement with the state, the companies will stop collecting on existing leases, return payments made on the leases made since Jan. 1, and cancel all remaining balances on the leases, Healey’s office said. The companies will also pay a $50,000 fine to the state and not originate any new dog leases.