Yesterday, Portland-based pet leasing company Hannah the Pet Society announced that it will stop sourcing pets and placing them with families.
If you aren’t familiar with Hannah’s original pet leasing model, here’s how it worked:
- Hannah used its pet matching service to find a pet for you based on information you provided.
- Once you selected your pet, you signed a contract saying you would pay Hannah a monthly fee for the duration of the animal’s life. It also said Hannah retained ownership of it.
- In exchange for the fee, Hannah provided all veterinary care and delivered its own food to your door. It also offered training/ongoing support.
If you broke your contract with Hannah you had to pay a huge fee. Some former customers said Hannah charged them $700 to cancel it.
Hannah made the announcement a few months after the company endured an avalanche of bad publicity for euthanizing 3 dogs it claimed to be unadoptable even though the dogs passed behavior assessments and exams conducted by Hannah’s own staff.
After a person who returned one of the dogs learned Hannah euthanized it, she said publicly the puppy was not aggressive and shouldn’t have been killed.
Other recent problems dogging Hannah include:
- An investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice announced last February.
- Lawsuits filed by former Hannah customers.
- The cancellation of its contract with the Columbia Humane Society, the only rescue/shelter that provided Hannah with pets. 2 of the dogs Hannah euthanized came from Columbia Humane. Its contract stipulated that “any dogs that could not be re-homed through Hannah were to be returned to CHS.”
However, despite the lawsuits, the DOJ investigation, and the PR disasters, Wich claimed Hannah’s decision to stop sourcing and placing pets was rooted in two factors: “A decline in the number of people getting their pets from Hannah and a lack of local shelter pets.”
But Wich’s statement that Hannah is having trouble finding local shelter pets is suspect.
First of all, this video on the company website explaining the new policy, Placement Center Manager Susan Tripp said the reason Hannah discontinued its placement program is because “our members are just as happy finding their own pets.” She says absolutely nothing about a shortage of local shelter pets.
In addition, every source with whom I’ve spoken said that the Columbia Humane Society was the only shelter that provided dogs and cats to Hannah for years.
Wich said the company currently has 4500 members and 6000 pets. Columbia Humane couldn’t have provided the vast majority of these pets.
So how can Hannah claim “a lack of local shelter pets” when it only got pets from one local shelter?
Hannah would not reveal the sources of its pets. Many people believed backyard breeders and puppy mills supplied most of them.
The company says it leased approximately 1000 pets per year since its inception in 2010. If it only gets them from one local shelter, where else could Hannah have possibly obtained that many pets?
When more potential pet owners learned about these questionable business practices, however, they decided to get their dogs or cats elsewhere.
Regardless of the reason, Hannah decided to stop sourcing and placing pets, I’m glad they did it.
I’ve never liked their pet leasing model. Their obsessive compulsion with keeping their pet suppliers secret indicates they got most of their “products” from questionable sources.
Hannah now appears to be a pet insurance company that also provides behavior care and obedience training. Wich did not say if Hannah’s customers will still have to sign over ownership of their pets to participate.
Given Hannah’s obsession with secrecy, the numerous of complaints filed against it, and the number of reputable companies that provide pet insurance, I believe their new business model will not be any more successful than their old one.