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Illegal Dog Leasing Case

Massachusetts AG Healey Secures More Than $930,000 in Debt Relief and Restitution in Illegal Dog Leasing Case

Settlement Includes Refunds and Debt Cancelations; Finance Company to Transfer Full Ownership of Dogs to Consumers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

4/13/2022

  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that a finance company has agreed to provide more than $930,000 in debt relief and restitution to resolve allegations that it was illegally leasing dogs in Massachusetts. The settlement includes waiving outstanding debt held by consumers, providing payments to eligible consumers, and transferring full ownership of the dogs to hundreds of Massachusetts residents.

The assurance of discontinuance with California-based company Monterey Financial Services, LLC, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, settles allegations that the company violated Massachusetts consumer protection laws by purchasing and collecting on leases for dogs, which is illegal in the state. The settlement also alleges that the company had engaged in illegal collection practices to collect outstanding balances on the leases.

“Families in Massachusetts looking to get a dog should not be trapped in leasing agreements that are harmful, expensive, and illegal,” said AG Healey. “We will take action to stop this exploitive practice of using dogs as emotional leverage, and are pleased to get results for pet owners involved with these finance companies.”

Dog leases are illegal in Massachusetts and are often an expensive way to purchase a dog. These transactions can carry high finance charges, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the lease term and dog purchase price.

Under pet leasing arrangements, the consumer must make monthly payments to the finance company involved for the duration of the lease. If the consumer wants to purchase the dog at the end of the lease, the consumer must make an additional payment to the financial company to finally own the dog. However, if the consumer misses a payment, the dog can be repossessed by the company, just like a leased car.

The AG’s Office has been conducting investigations into financial companies that originated or purchased dog leases. The AG’s Office learned of Monterey’s illegal dog leasing practices while it was investigating another financial company, Nevada-based Credova Financial. Under a settlement reached with the AG’s Office, Credova agreed to waive balances totaling more than $126,000 for consumers who wanted to purchase dogs from retailers.

Under the terms of today’s settlement, Monterey Financial has agreed to stop collecting on any active leases involving dogs in Massachusetts and transfer full ownerships of the dogs to the consumers. Monterey Financial has also agreed to cancel any outstanding amount owed on the leases, totaling approximately $700,000. The company will also provide $175,000 in restitution to consumers and will be required to pay $50,000 to the state.

Consumers who have been victims of dog leases are encouraged to contact the AG’s Insurance and Financial Services Division at 1-888-830-6277 or file a complaint online.

This matter was handled in the AG’s Office by staff of the AG’s Insurance and Financial Services Division, including Assistant Attorney General Michael Sugar and Legal Analyst Maggie Wallace, with the assistance of Ciara Tran of the AG’s Civil Investigations Division.       

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