Log in   •   Sign up   •   Subscribe  feed icon

Profit from Part-Time Pets: The Dog Leasing Market

Miss having the companionship of a furry friend, but don't have the life circumstances that allow you to have one of your own? Businesses like FLEXPETS and major hotel chains like Fairmont and the Ritz-Carlton have established a unique time sharing concept that allows you to rent dogs that you can love, but only part-time.

So you adore dogs, but your husband has allergies, or you just aren't home enough to offer it adequate care once you bring it into your own. You aren't alone finding yourself in such a situation. But should that stop you from having man's (or woman's) best friend to cuddle with when you are on vacation or your husband is away on business? FLEXPETS and selected hotels certainly don't think so.

 

FLEXPETS is inarguably a controversial business idea, which has to date been banned in many US states. Its business model begins with the adoption of rescue dogs, and puts them through an intensive training program to ensure they are obedient and on their best behavior. They have animals of all shapes, sizes and breeds who have undergone an intensive training program to ensure they are well-behaved and obedient when they come into your home. With this guarantee, you can be certain you won't encounter any behavior problems, and won't have to put in the time, effort and money to train your own.

The FLEXPETS service is convenient too, they will shuttle the canine of your choosing from their full-time residence to any location you wish and pick him/her up at the pre-determined time. They come prepared, with their meals and favorite toys in tow. Also, to ensure the safety of their animals, FLEXPETS fits them with state of the art collars that have GPS monitors, so they can be traced in case they become separated from their caregivers; as well as a temperature monitor to ensure they remain in safe and comfortable surroundings. With features like this, the thought and stress is really taken out of pet care.

FLEXPETS, in an attempt to win back the support of animal rights advocates, claims to offer above-average care; many of the dogs in their program have been in urgent need of healthcare or behavior reform, and they take it upon themselves to rid the furry creatures from all of their problems before placing them in loving, part-time homes. Some of these animals may have faced euthanasia had they not been taken in by FLEXPETS, who also make an effort to adopt them out to forever homes with loving families.

The FLEXPETS service almost sounds too good to be true for those interested in pet leasing. But wait, maybe it is; because while on paper they offer a program that conveniently covers all aspects of pet care, you do pay for what you get. Anyone interested in becoming a member, must first pay their dues of $99.95USD per month to fund FLEXPETS' dog care responsibilities. For actual use of a furry companion, you will be charged $45.00 per day; however, there is a minimum fee of four days per month regardless of service usage. While their shuttle service may be convenient, it's likely to break the bank at $25 each way for every 10 miles (plus $3 for each additional mile).

With rates so exorbitant you have to put it in perspective; consider yourself making a charitable donation to support dog rescue and care. The fact that a dog comes with the deal, is just an added bonus. However, that being said, it costs me substantially less each month, on average, to care for my own two dogs and I don't have to share them.

FLEX PETS currently only has locations in New York, Los Angeles, and London (UK) but is rapidly expanding throughout the States and Internationally. Interested in investing in a small business? There are clearly profits to be had if you can get it off the ground; you might want to consider contacting them about franchise opportunities in your area.

However, before making a commitment, do your research; the business is surrounded by a lot of controversy, with people questioning whether the best interests of the dogs are in mind. And, currently there is also a great deal of debate regarding the veracity of the business model outlined above, that has even resulted in legal action; PETFLEX may not be all it claims. If this is a business idea that you favor; enhance the model as it appears on paper to ensure that pets remain safe, happy and well-cared for.

Fairmont Hotels offers dog leasing at three locations to date, and their program's success has shown that pet lovers like to be with a furry friend, even when they're on vacation. At the Boston location, dog Catie Copley, a friendly black lab, has become a kind of celebrity. She lives in the lap of luxury in the lobby where she lounges in her plush bed.

A concierge responsible for her care maintains an appointment book to manage her busy social schedule with the guests of the hotel. They can bring her on day trips around the city, and will be provided a tour book outlining Catie's favorite stomping grounds; or guests can pick more modest encounters like brief walks or runs. However, Catie even has her limitations; she is available for four walks per day, sandwiched between her mandatory two hour siestas. Naturally, Catie also has her own email address, so when you reflect upon your found memories of her during your visit to the Fairmont in Boston, you can let her know she's in your thoughts.

The Ritz-Carlton in Bachelor Gulch , Colorado has a yellow lab, who like the Fairmont's Catie Copley, is in high demand. Don't expect to take their pooch out for a stroll at the last minute, reservations to be his designated pooper-scooper must be made at least a month in advance to guarantee an open time slot in his calendar.

The pet leasing market is a relatively new one. Will this be a business trend that will continue expand to phenomenal profits, or with the state of the US economy will it be a unique concept that remains out of the average person's grasp?

As for me, I'll remain a proud dog order. But, maybe next time boarding is required, I should find someone who will pay me to take them instead of handing over my credit card.

Ripley & Riley Hodgson: My dogs, who are happy, healthy and a little spoiled.Ripley & Riley Hodgson: My dogs, who are happy, healthy and a little spoiled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: The above article is strictly informational and outlines business models in the pet leasing market. The author's stance on the pet leasing market's impact on the welfare of dogs has not been expressed in the content - this article strictly addresses aspects of the business plan alone. The author has no association with FLEXPETS, and the purpose is not to endorse the specific products or services, beyond presenting the business model as it appears on paper. Please feel free to provide feedback and opinions on the controversial topic in a constructive and appropriate manner.

 

Comments
Nov 19, 2008
by Anonymous

Get your facts straight, folks

I've done extensive research on Simon Brodie (now Carradan, of Carradan Skis), Marlena Cervantes and FlexPetz as well as his other ventures. All of the information I have is public knowledge and available for anyone who wants to take the time to peruse the SEC Filings.

FlexPetz does NOT 'rescue' dogs. They BUY them. They can't get them from shelters, as shelters will NOT adopt a dog to someone who not going to give them security and consistency - something you don't have when a dog is being rented out like a DVD to multiple people.

FlexPetz dogs have a 'useable lifes' of 5 years. In the SEC filings, these dogs are viewed as 'equipment costs'.

FlexPetz has been BANNED in a number of cities (Hollywood, CA being the most recent) and the state of Massachusetts has outlawed the renting of companion pets. Other states are following suit one by one.

Brodie, the man behind FlexPetz, is a convicted felon in the UK for fraud. Brodie is also the founder of Allerca, selling 'hypoallergenic' cats and dogs that don't seem to materialize. He was given a 'cease and desist' order by the state of California after attempting to sell 'breeder franchises' for these so-called hypoallergenic pets. He's also the man behind the supposedly unique $22,000.00 “Ashera” cats -- which, after DNA tests, have turned out to be Savannah cats purchased from a breeder.

He has now added a second name and new venture: Simon Carradan, of Carradan Skis -- which is run out of the very same office as FlexPetz in Big Sky, Montana....

Just the guy I want to do business with....

Nov 19, 2008
by Anonymous

Thank you for the comment.

Thank you for the comment. The primary purpose of my blog is to discuss interesting new business concepts and provide ideas for entrepreneurs. It's not necessarily to endorse any particular company's service.

That being said - it is inarguably a controversial idea when it comes to human right's groups - however, there are always 2 sides to any story dependent upon perspective.

And, just to clear up one point, FlexPetz's animals are not just bounced around from home to home, each have limitations on the number of weekly visits based on requirements and all live in full-time homes when they are not working. It's not much different than people who go to work and hire a dog walking agency to take their dog out (often a different person daily) or put them in a doggie daycare where they may be in the company of different people and animals every day.

My research into every company is thorough - I only choose to represent a perspective that will generate interest and even controversy because it is more interesting to readers. It doesn't mean that myself, or any of the other writers on Inventor Spot "do not have our facts straight"

Nov 21, 2008
by Anonymous

actually....

I was one of the experts called on to testify during the hearings to ban pet rentals in Massachusetts. This is not an animal rights issue, this is an animal welfare issue.

It's a LOT different than people who go to work and hire a dog walking agency or put them in a daycare. Those dogs have a home to go to afterwards. They have a family who knows their medical history, who can tell when something is not quite right and take care of it right away.

First of all, FP dogs do not live in homes. FP contracts with dog day care facilities to 'house' the dogs when they are not living with a family. These dog day care establishments do *not* have 24/7 staff in order to watch for problems; many people without proper qualifications open these daycare establishments, and hire others who have even less experience.

And there are problems: dogs have evolved with a need to bond with a caretaker, and being bounced around between 'paid caretakers' without having a full-time forever family does a number on these dogs. Many of the FP dogs in the daycare facility developed OCD and self-injurious behavior issues within months of becoming 'rental' pets. One of them chewed it's own tail off -- and lost the ability to be a 'rental' pet (if someone had been there to watch the dog, it could have been taken to the vet immediately -- but that's what happens when it's 'not your dog'...)

When you rent a car or a dvd -- just how careful ARE you with it? I mean, it's not your property, right? Then again, it's a THING. It can be replaced if you break it.

A dog is not a thing that can be replaced when broken. It is a sentient living creature that works along WITH us in many ways.

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
- Mohandas Gandhi

Nov 21, 2008
by Beth Graddon-Hodgson
Beth Graddon-Hodgson's picture

 I feel as though I am

 I feel as though I am being pushed to take a stance on this issue...

I agree with your sentiments when it comes to dogs...as a dog lover and owner of 2 of my own, I would agree that they are not replaceable.

 I would hope, however, that those who are 'renting' the animals would be animal lovers themselves, and would treat them with care, especially since it's not a fulltime responsibility of theirs (and one that they are paying to have)...so well people may not treat a rental car like their own, you have to hope they would take more care of a dog; since as you said, it's not a thing.

 I would disagree that this may be an interesting concept gone wrong...with some modifcations that focus more on animal welfare, I could see a business like this being successful and in the best interest of the animals. More of a care structure, with a fulltime family (similar to what I mentioned previously). Naturally, however, if I were to put my dogs in the temporary care of others, I would need to make a full assessment and ensure they were in good hands...just as I did when selecting someone for in-home boarding during a vacation.

 Again, the major purpose of this article is to discuss a potentially interesting business idea, even if it generates controversy; so I absolutely appreciate your feedback and comments because I have met my goal. 

Beth Hodgson
Innovative Business Writer

Dec 1, 2008
by Anonymous

"Many of the FP dogs in the

"Many of the FP dogs in the daycare facility developed OCD and self-injurious behavior issues within months of becoming 'rental' pets. One of them chewed it's own tail off -- and lost the ability to be a 'rental' pet (if someone had been there to watch the dog, it could have been taken to the vet immediately -- but that's what happens when it's 'not your dog'...)" - this is an absolute crock - PROVE IT WITH FACTS BEFORE YOU COMMIT LIBEL!!!!.

Fact: all FP dogs got adopted on a permanent basis with members within an average of 12 weeks of entering the program - much better than running off to a breeder to buy a dog on a whim, as the memebrs got a real opportunityt to understand what is truly involved in dog care. The amount of junk about FP out there is amazing!!

Dec 7, 2008
by Anonymous

People who rent dogs have no

People who rent dogs have no idea what is truly involved in care, nor do they want to. It's why they rent--duh!

FlexPetz supplies food, a leash, even a GPS system; the renter has NO responsibility for the dog. He pays his fee, uses the animal for fun and games (or to pick up chicks), an hour here, an afternoon there, then dumps him back at FlexPetz when he's tired of the dog or wants to try out a jazzier breed.

Shirking responsiblity and commitment is ok when it comes to renting cars. It's abjectly cruel when the rental property is a living, feeling, thinking being--who forms bonds and depends on consistency and routine, as dogs do.

As for the rental pet who bit his own tail: A licensed private investigator took this statement from the employee of a doggy daycare facility that domiciled the dog between rentals. Makes sense. Any credible animal behaviorist will tell you that frequent changes of routine, caregiver and home environment--read: being rented--are extremely stressful for dogs. That's just one reason why leading animal behavior professionals, along with the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA supported the Massachusetts law banning pet rentals.

Apparently, Ms. Hodgson, you didn't think their opinions germane to a story on a business model that has been banned on the basis of cruelty to animals. The question is: Why not? Are you a business journalist as you claim or a publicist? Or simply naive, taking FlexPetz' PR at face value and regurgitating it.

You didn't even broach the issue of liability. Stressed dogs are more apt to bite--not just their own tails, but the nearest human hand or face. Consider the dog who is praised for getting up on one renter's sofa but swatted with a newspaper for doing the same thing in the next renter's home. You'd bite that person too.

For sure, FlexPetz carries insurance to protect itself from a monumental lawsuit. But how about the renter: Does homeowner's insurance cover rental pet attacks? Nope. No underwriter would be that stupid.

Finally, do not confuse a rent-a-pet with Catie Copley. Unlike FlexPetz dogs, who are shuttled from home to home as often as a customer with a charge card and a pulse wants them, canine ambassadors live in a stable environment with a consistent caregiver. And that makes all the difference. Ask the head concierge at the Copley Fairmont, who is Catie Copley's handler, protector and friend. Catie lives with his family.

Ms. Hodgson: Your research is superficial, and your conclusions equally sophomoric. Back to Journalism 101.

Dec 8, 2008
by Beth Graddon-Hodgson
Beth Graddon-Hodgson's picture

 I am not a journalist

 I am not a journalist (investigative or otherwise) nor am I a publicist; I am a innovative businesses writer who simply presents business models from which people can draw their own conclusions and provide feedback, or get some inspiration to start their own businesses. That is the purpose of this blog  on Inventor Spot. 

 It is a controversial business idea, inarguably, and knowing that, I chose not to provide the alternative perspective knowing that others would have comments. 

You say my information is superficial, but try looking below the surface to learn more about Inventor Spot and my writing to get a better grasp on why the information is presented the way it is. You don't have to agree with anything written here, and often, that is the point.  However, you should be able to rise above personal attacks and provide your opinion is a more constructive manner even when you share a different view.

 I'm not sure why Catie Copley comes into play - whether or not the model is the same - again, the emphasis is upon businesses with pet time sharing..and that's where it stops.

 Let me make it finally clear that I have no association with FlexPets, nor am I endorsing their business. The article is strictly informational, and my comments to elicit debate and further feedback. Welcome to the world of blogging.

 

 

 

 

 

Beth Hodgson
Innovative Business Writer

Dec 8, 2008
by Beth Graddon-Hodgson
Beth Graddon-Hodgson's picture

 Thank you for your

 Thank you for your comment!

I work at home, so my dogs are fortunate enough to be with me most hours of the day. Many people do not have that setup, and have a dog pass their time home alone, either loose or crated. In either case, dogs are not supervised 24hrs/day..so regardless of the measures put in place, unfortunate accidents can happen when people are not there to intervene. 

 I would also agree that having the opportunity to get a feel for whether or not a pet would be a good addition to a home, is more beneficial to the animal when done in advance. Many shelters and rescue organizations do offer a trial period just for this reason; it gives them a chance to see how it responds to their children, other animals, and determine whether or not they have the time and energy to invest in an animal. This way, animals can get the proper love and care they deserve.

 

Beth Hodgson
Innovative Business Writer