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Douchebag idea of the Year :: Rent-a-Pet

by Mike Diamond

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday August 24, 2008

So it's come to this; rent-a-pets. A west coast based company called FLEXPETZ, utilizing a market strategy called "shared dog ownership concept" is at the forefront of promoting a sad and disturbing conceit: time share pets. The company is clearly targeting bourgeoisie yuppies, 'me first' urbanites and soccer moms; the FLEXPETZ site specifically references people who require 'regular business travel involving days away from home' or have 'a busy family schedule.' Here's an idea: wait until you have the time to be a responsible pet owner!

What's next? Gee, why not time share babies? Rent a Granny?

The concept is misguided rather than malicious; while the FLEXPETZ team takes the correct first step in providing food, shelter and veterinary care for otherwise homeless or forgotten animals, it binds these same dogs into a form of indentured servitude. No doubt, FLEXPETZ only allocates its resources to animals that will then help them make a buck. You don't see any dogs 'for rent' that are missing an eye; FLEXPETZ aims to move the merchandise.

FLEXPETZ 'members' can spend from just a few hours to a number of days with the dogs of their choice. According to the company, the part time pooches are available in varied breed sizes "to ensure compatibility with our member's individual lifestyles and unique circumstances" (or perhaps to perfectly match that pair of Manolos). While some canines can certainly handle being passed from person to person, this type of treatment will only undermine the stability and well being of the FLEXPETZ dogs, most of whom are acquired from rescue groups. Getting bounced around from playdate to playdate may bring them a few precious hours of love and attention, but ultimately is not the solution.

The FP web site boldly touts the benefits to members, which apparently overrides any consideration for the dog's stability. There are repeated references to member's 'individual lifestyles' and 'unique circumstances'. Might those be a lifestyle of selfishness and the circumstance of shortsightedness? No one can be faulted for having a busy lifestyle. But if one loves dogs but can't commit to owning one, why not volunteer at an animal shelter a few hours a week? There's certainly no shortage of abandoned dogs who would love a few hours walking in the fresh air and frolicking at the park.

While some FLEXPETS dogs do get adopted out to members, and the animals do receive the care and attention they wouldn't get if caged up in an animal shelter, the basic concept is flawed. Helping animals is one thing; pimping them out under a thin veneer of compassion is another. At this time, FLEXPETZ is solely a commercial enterprise, and does not give any of its proceeds to any animal charity or shelter, though they state they are working towards that. The blame truly lies with our culture itself, which views animals as disposable, temporary playthings, or worse.

I can't fault the FLEXPETX members for wanting canine companionship; I just believe there are more committed, responsible and genuine ways to go about it.

If you think this idea is as ridiculous as we do here at EDGE, feel free to pass your comments on to the company:

  • Phone: 888-211-7830

  • Email: [email protected]

    Mike Diamond likes puppies!