Pet store loans raise eyebrows in Florida

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PLANTATION, Florida. – We know you can finance a car and a house but a puppy?

That’s right. No kidding. It’s a thing.

But Local 10 News has discovered that many don’t read the fine print, and you could end up paying double without even realizing it.

Some find they don’t even own their furry friends. In fact, they rent them.

Jesus Valdelamar fell in love with the dog in the window of a Plantation pet store in August.

“I fell in love with her when I saw her,” Valdelamar said.

But instead of the doghouse, Valdelamar is now in the poor house.

He did something he never thought he could do: Valdelamar funded a puppy.

He said the golden retriever he bought cost $5,000 and he told the seller he couldn’t afford the puppy.

“I said, ‘I don’t have the money to give a deposit.’ They said, “Don’t worry. Let me check your credit and you’ll be good to go,” Valdelamar said.

He said less than an hour later he walked through the door with his pup.

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“They came back and said I was approved. It took 10 minutes. They said, ‘You’re good to go. She’s yours,'” he said.

Jesus Valdelamar said he bought a puppy on a high-interest loan from a local pet store.

Valdelamar said he didn’t even need a down payment. A few days later, he realized that college, a job, and a puppy didn’t mix.

But he had already intervened.

The pet store wouldn’t take the golden retriever back and the bank wouldn’t hear an apology.

“I called the bank. I told them everything. They didn’t care,” he said.

Valdelamar turned the puppy over to the Humane Society of Broward County.

“I don’t have a dog, but I have a loan.” he said.

It’s not just any loan. Valdelamar pays $270 a month for four years. That’s nearly $13,000 for the high interest loan.

He admits he didn’t read the fine print.

“I was focused on the pup. I just wanted to take her home,” Valdelamar said. “They take advantage of you because they know you want the puppy. They make it so easy.”

Valdelamar is not alone.

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In fact, some people do not realize that they are not financing at all, but renting their furry friend, like a car.

You do not own your pet during the term of the lease.

In the end, many are surprised that there is a lump sum payment if they want to keep their pet.

The Humane Society of Broward County recommends potential pet owners check local shelters if they’re looking for a new furry friend.

The Federal Trade Commission and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued warnings.

Local 10 News sent hidden cameras to several South Florida pet stores.

Everyone offered us funding. When asked about interest rates, everyone admitted they were high. A seller said the interest rate could exceed 100%.

No one has said anything about leasing, even though the lenders they use clearly state this on their websites.

A gold doodle we saw in a store went for $5,300. If we had financed it for three years at 100% interest, our four-legged friend would have ended up costing us $16,844.09.

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“I’m a bit speechless. In fact, there are so many animals in shelters waiting for a second chance and a home.” said Cherie Wachter, of the Humane Society of Broward County.

Wachter said if you have a certain breed at heart, check out websites like Petfinder.com.

“You can put in the breed you’re looking for, your zip code and it will find any animals that match what you’re looking for,” she said.

Valdelamar said he learned a hard lesson.

“People shouldn’t buy dogs. They should adopt,” Valdelamar said.

Several states, including Nevada and California, have banned pet rentals, and several other states have proposed legislation. Florida is not one of them.

Financial experts have said that a transaction like this can tarnish your credit.

Copyright 2018 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.

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