Pet Leasing Company Deceived Customers
The Portland Tribune reported yesterday that an Oregon Department of Justice (ODJ) investigation into Hannah the Pet Society revealed the company engaged in deceptive practices.
The Tribune said this evidence was revealed during an ODJ investigation into “substantial evidence that the firm misled customers, provided substandard veterinary care, and set up a fraudulent nonprofit to conceal a long-standing practice of buying dogs from commercial breeders, not shelters as the company had long claimed.”
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 and Hannah retained ownership of it.
- In exchange for the fee, Hannah provided all veterinary care, delivered its own food to your door, and offered training/ongoing support.
Hannah Stops Leasing Pets
Last April, Hannah announced it would that it would stop sourcing pets and placing them with families. At the time, Hannah leased 6000 pets to about 4500 people who continued lease their pets from Hannah to get veterinary care, food, and training for their pets.
Hannah made the announcement a few months after the company endured an avalanche of bad publicity after Seattle DogSpot broke the story that it euthanized 3 dogs it claimed to be unadoptable even though the dogs passed behavior assessments and exams conducted by Hannah’s own staff.
The ODJ initiated the investigation after receiving numerous complaints “accusing the company of poor care and of not fulfilling promises made when it signed up customers.”
The Tribune said Hannah sued ODJ to “block investigators’ demands for documents. But last month a judge “rejected the company’s arguments and ordered the documents produced by April 14.”
Considering what the documents revealed, I’m not surprised Hannah tried to block ODJ from getting them.
Hannah Nonprofit Buys Puppies from Breeders
Until Hannah stopped its “pet matching service,” it claimed most of its dogs came from shelters.
But the evidence ODJ examined showed Hannah set up a nonprofit called the Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) to buy dogs from breeders with money that Hannah “donated” to it.
The Tribune reported that ODJ made the following statement about Hannah’s so called nonprofit foundation:
“Hannah was the sole source of PAWS funds, which PAWS used to purchase pets primarily from commercial breeders,” the state said. “PAWS then provided the pets to Hannah, and Hannah leased the pets to its customers, typically representing that these pets came from shelters or other animal welfare organizations.”
PAWS also allowed Hannah to manufacture favorable publicity.
Charity Hid Purchases from Breeders
The company claimed it gave $1.2 million to animal rescue organizations (that claim is no longer on Hannah’s website).
If the documents ODJ obtained are accurate, Hannah used PAWS to hide its purchases from breeders.
This validated Hannah’s claim that it obtained most of its dogs from shelters.
This practice was particularly insidious. People who wanted to adopt a rescue dog unknowingly got a dog from backyard breeders.
Furthermore, Hannah’s actions were a huge boon to backyard breeders. The company filled their bank accounts with hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase dogs from them.
By obtaining dogs and puppies from backyard breeders through its “foundation,” Hannah gave the finger to the people who dedicate their lives to dog rescue. It also enriched backyard breeders, and duped adopters who wanted to adopt dogs rescued from shelters.
I opposed Hannah’s business model of leasing pets since I first learned about it. My concern was Hannah would make decisions based its profits and not what was in the best interest of dogs.
After watching Hannah’s actions for a few years, I’ve seen nothing that changes this opinion.
I commend the ODJ for initiating its investigation into Hannah’s and look forward to further findings as it continues.