Apparently pet leasing is a thing. Veterinarian Scott Campbell founded a pet leasing company called Hannah the Pet Society in Oregon after running Banfield (the vet clinics inside Petsmart stores) for 20 years. People pay to lease a pet, obtained from a shelter, and Hannah provides the food and veterinary care. If the pet doesn’t work out in the home for whatever reason, Hannah will take the animal back and find him another home. Or not.
At Thanksgiving last year, Campbell reportedly ordered the killing of 3 dogs, Pip, Kelso and Charlie Bear, who had been leased and returned. Hannah had obtained Kelso and Charlie Bear from the Columbia HS, which had provided a number of other pets to the company in past. The standing agreement between the organizations stated that the dogs would be returned to the Columbia HS if they didn’t work out in a home with a Hannah customer.
Instead of returning the dogs, Hannah killed them without informing the Columbia HS:
“You can’t print our reaction because it’s profane,” said Lori Furman, board president at Columbia Humane. “We were very unhappy. They didn’t call us to take the dogs back.”
Hannah claims all three of the dogs were so aggressive, they had to be killed:
“Dr. Campbell, a licensed veterinarian with decades of experience, worked in consultation with members of his team to reach the conclusion that euthanasia was the only option in this case,” said Kara Hansen, a spokeswoman for Hannah the Pet Society. “The dogs that were euthanized had multiple documented instances of aggressive behavior, including biting. The company stands by the decision to put them to sleep rather than return them to a shelter, where they could face years of re-adoption and return and could hurt people.”
Hansen said there is documentation showing aggression, but it’s considered confidential medical and proprietary information and they do not plan to release it.
If Hannah’s only supposed evidence supporting why the dogs had to be killed instead of being returned to their original shelters is on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of The Leopard”, I’m going to have to put on my skeptical face.
Then there’s the Hannah customer who returned Kelso – not for aggressive behavior, but because the other dog in the house kept picking on him:
“He was floppy and sweet,” she said. “He was wonderful.”
“He was great, it was just our Boston terrier was so alpha female and wouldn’t allow us to have another animal in the house,” she said. “She was very protective of her domain.”
She said Hannah told her Kelso was previously returned to the company, but not because of any aggression issues. The previous owner just didn’t have time for a puppy.
Even the employees were at a loss to explain why the so-vicious-all-we-can-do-is-kill-them dogs were allowed to interact with the public at the Hannah stores and then suddenly killed:
“We were all pretty shocked,” said a current employee, who asked not to be named for fear of legal retaliation, citing a nondisclosure agreement. “Vicious would not be how anyone would describe them.”
Current and former staff say they are not sure why Hannah would euthanize the dogs instead of give them back to shelters. They said if the company had offered the dogs to employees, as they have in the past, the dogs would have been adopted in a heartbeat.
Hannah has received backlash from the public over the killings but has doubled down on the take-our-word-for-it strategy:
“The company does not plan to start releasing confidential medical and proprietary information to the general public,” said Hannah CEO Fred Wich. “We hope you can understand why setting that type of precedent could be bad for the company, for our members and pets – this is private medical and proprietary information.”
Uh, the media is not seeking to publish the name of a rape victim who had an abortion here. The company is being offered an opportunity to explain, with documentation, the killings it claims were so righteous.
You know what precedent is definitely bad for the company? Failing to honor the agreements made with shelters they get pets from, killing dogs who appear to have been easily adoptable and then claiming they will make their last stand protecting the privacy of the dead dogs’ records because for the love of ponies, Fluffy’s name will not be dragged through the muck while there is breath in my body.
The Columbia HS has terminated its agreement with Hannah and taken all their pets back. Every other group that gave animals to Hannah will hopefully do the same.
(Thanks Clarice for the links.)