Pet leasing: The latest in predatory lending

Pet leasing appears to be the latest scheme to bilk the unwary of their hard-earned dollars. Unfortunately, this particular scam also involves the welfare of an innocent dog or cat.

Here’s how it works

You watched Game of Thrones (or Balto or White Fang), and now you want a dog who looks like one of those tame wolves owned by the Starks. You go to Pets R Us or a store like it. There you see and instantly fall in love with a Siberian husky puppy.

The sales person apparently wants to help you. She tells you about Wags Lending. This nice company will loan you money so that you can take your puppy home! The loan process is amazingly easy, so easy you should probably be a little suspicious.

But you’re drowning in love hormones (oxytocin) every time the puppy makes eye contact with you. So you sign the loan document over your phone, confident that you can make the monthly payments.

Over the next two years, you, not Wags Lending, will train your small wolf to be a family dog. You will eventually teach him to pee outside and quit jumping on the table and pulling half a bagel off your plate.

You will put up with this, happily, because every time you look into his blue eyes, you see the love and happiness that you have brought to a wonderfully uncomplicated soul.

By now, you are well over any notion that your husky is anything more mystical than a dog.

He pees on the sidewalk and paddles through his own pee. He lives for treats. The two of you sit on the couch watching Game of Thrones together. When one of the tame wolves kills a Stark enemy, you pat your dog on the head and say, “You go, pup.”

Who knows at what point you will learn that you do not legally own your dog? Maybe after you’ve made the final payment, Wags Lending will ping you and offer to sell you the dog at “fair market value.”

Perhaps, earlier on, you were late with a payment, and the seemingly so-friendly company you “borrowed” from is now threatening to repossess your dog.

This happened while we were sleeping

Admittedly, AnimalRightsChannel.com is just now catching up to the sad existence of pet leasing. Luckily, the governments of New York, California, and Nevada have been on top of this long enough to make the practice illegal.

As usual, buyers should beware, especially when it turns out they are not actually buying.

Wags Lending and other similar companies are trafficking in the human longing for non-judgmental companionship. And they didn’t have to do the hard work of inventing a revenue model. It was right there in plain sight: car leases.

They just adapted the model of the car lease and tailored it to dog lovers who want a classier dog than they can actually afford.

This is not where we will debate the merits of buying a thoroughbred against the merits of just going to the pound and saving someone’s life.

I lied. If you don’t have, on hand, the thousands of dollars needed to pay for an expensive designer dog, definitely go down to the pound and save someone’s life for a clean hundred.

Here is a complete list of things you should borrow money for:

  1. a house
  2. a car, but only if you need it to get to work

What you can do

If you have unwittingly leased a dog (and many have; you are not alone), you have a buy out option. Go to the lender’s website and see what that option is. At Wags Lending, the buy out option is described as follows:

“consumers can buy out of their lease at any time and become the outright owners of the property. And, there are no penalties or extra fees if you choose to buyout [sic] early!”

Drilling down a little further, however, brings up this unsavory information:

“The customer can pay their buyout at any time. Assuming they’ve fulfilled monthly payments on time, they are not restricted as to when they can pay this.”

Let’s put that into plain English. If you ever miss a payment or make a payment late, you may have no option but to make all contracted payments before negotiating the purchase of your pet.

If you are fortunate enough to have made all payments on time, this is, according to the Wags Lender website, how you will be charged for the purchase of your pet:

“The buyout payment total, includes what is currently owed plus 15% of the pet’s value. This is also known as a “purchase fee”.”

No further directions are available about how to buy your animal on the Wags Lending website. However, there is a phone number, (844) 761-4950.

Call it and you get an automated message that you have reached “Monterey Financial.” Montery Financial is an unregistered lender with a one star rating from Consumer Affairs customers.

Upon calling this number, I got the usual warning that “this is an attempt to collect on a debt,” not the warm fuzzy greeting I was hoping for, from people who are involved in handing out puppies.

Eventually, I got a human being who sounded very stressed, and she told me that, yes, this is the right number to call if I want to buy an animal I accidentally borrowed.

So, to the best of my knowledge at this point, if you want out of your bad contract with Wags Lending or other predatory lending service, call (844) 761-4950, let the system take you to a human by not entering any numbers or saying anything, and then, with your account number handy, tell them you want to buy your leased pet.

What else you can do

Please sign my petition to end pet leasing at the federal level: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/620/181/276/

Author Lynn Hamilton writes from Louisville, Kentucky.

Isle of Dogs: Wes Anderson’s best so far

Dogs are not wild animals.

But what if they had to be?

Would they latch onto the first human that came along?

Probably. At least that’s what Wes Anderson hypothesizes in his latest film, Isle of Dogs. In this movie, a province of Japan has deported all its family pets and watchdogs to Trash Island. The cat-loving local Japanese administration claims that the dogs will spread their flu to the human population if not exiled.

Formerly used for manufacture, transportation, and animal experimentation, Trash Island has been devastated by multiple storms which have left it in chemical and architectural ruins.

Only one human attempts to rescue his dog, and that is Atari, a twelve year old boy who steals a prop plane and crash lands on the island in search of his dog, Spots.

Of the five animated dogs who star in Isle of Dogs, four immediately make Atari’s mission their own. And the outlier, Chief, voiced by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, never actually walks away from the mission. Instead, he keeps a close eye out on the others from a distance of a few yards.

Eventually, Chief comes to love Atari, saves his life, and pledges his lifetime loyalty to the twelve year old. When it turns out that Spots is Chief’s long lost brother, Chief has one question: “Was, was I the runt?”

“Not any more,” replies Spots as the two of them protect Atari from a raging current.

The movie is partly in untranslated Japanese, about which some reviewers have taken issue. In point of fact, nothing is said in Japanese that cannot easily be understood in context. It’s a bit like harping that you didn’t catch every word of an opera.

And one reviewer, Moeko Fujii , has said that language and the failure of translation is really what the film is all about.

Other critics have accused Anderson of stereotyping because his film traffics in a number of Japanese art forms: sumo wrestling, cherry blossoms, haiku.

We condemn this as cultural appropriation at our own risk, however, as Anderson is so tongue in cheek. In other words, he might be stereotyping, or he might be making fun of the way America stereotypes Japan.

What we do know is that Isle of Dogs is a really loving portrayal of dogs, their attachment to humans, and how little they ask of life. Isle of Dogs has all the heart that is absent from Anderson’s intriguing early work.

Perhaps not every dog is as rational and compassionate as Rex, King, Boss, and Duke, voiced by Edward Norton, Robert Balaban, Bill Murray, and Jeff Goldblum. But we all know dogs who are that gentle, dogs who will put up with the worst travel accommodations just to be near their people, dogs who would do anything for a twelve-year-old boy.

And the trademarks of Anderson’s work–the softly spoken monologues and characters staring straight into the camera–really work in this film. Especially when dogs and boy have their eyes full of tears.

Altogether, Isle of Dogs is Anderson’s most complex, subtle, and clever film so far.

 

 

Five easy ways to save bees

You don’t have to be a champion of animal rights to care about bees dying out.

You just have to like food.

Bees can survive on the despised dandelion.

Bees aren’t the only pollinators out there. But they are, by far, the most efficient.

This is a swarm of honey bees. They make it so we can eat food. Cherish them.

Let’s put it this way. If bees all die, we can quit worrying about climate change. We’ll starve to death before the permafrost melts.

The catastrophic decline in bee populations doesn’t make headlines anywhere near often enough. It’s not sexy news.

But while we pant after Lady Gaga’s latest outrage, the boring farms that feed us draw closer to peril.

It’s now a common thing for farms to rent bees, which get trucked in from elsewhere. Without these mercenary pollinators, crops would fail.

Scientists point to pesticides as an obvious reason why bees are dying. But the pesticide industry got busy and pointed back at the varroa mite.

Yeah, we know it’s really the pesticides.

While competing interests fiddle, we may want to consider the easiest things we can do to save bees. They are:

  1. Put down the bug and weed killers. The one kills bees, the other kills bee food. You can save money and go to heaven by leaving the poisons on the shelf at Walmart.
  2. Leave your dandelions alone. Bees don’t get enough nutrients from dandelions alone. But this sturdy and abundant little weed often saves bees from starvation while they are looking for a richer meal.
  3. Learn to identify honey bees and bumblebees. Bumblers are more or less unmistakable. Honey bees can be confused with wasps. But a few seconds spent looking at a photo of honey bees will show you what to look for.
  4. Where you see bees in your yard, don’t mow. Bees latch on tight to any steady source of nutrients. They love milkweed, goldenrod, pokeweed, and wild clover. Learn to love the weed. And know that, in other parts of the world, people prize that weed that you take for granted or despise. If you can’t give up your whole yard to bees, at least set aside a corner or fence buffer.
  5. Plant sunflowers. They’re delicious to bees, and they make your yard gorgeous.
Bees can easily locate a sunflower, and the big petals make it easy to feed from.

Vast majority Of Americans Support Endangered Species Act

Science Daily reports the vast majority of Americans support the Endangered Species Act despite increasing efforts to curtail it: Political and business interests don’t appear to align with the public’s view. Roughly four out of five Americans support the Endangered Species Act, and only one in 10 oppose it, found a survey of 1,287 Americans. Support has remained […]

via Vast majority Of Americans Support Endangered Species Act — Natural History Wanderings

Should the Ohio River be more polluted?

In a tucked away corner of Kentucky, on a recent Thursday night, several elected officials conducted a poorly publicized public hearing to discuss whether regulations that have protected the Ohio River from pollution should be “revised.”

The regulations under review have been in place since 1948 when all the states on the Ohio agreed, with various degrees of reluctance, to do something to protect the river.

The outcome of this uneasy agreement was ORSANCO, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission. ORSANCO has, for the years since, regulated the amount of pollution that can be spewed into the Ohio.

Much to the frustration of the coal power plants that line the river, every few miles.

Has ORSANCO done a great job? Well, no. Many hearing participants noted at Thursday’s meeting that the Ohio is the most polluted river in the nation. That statistic is backed up, as of 2012, by research coming out of Pennsylvania.

But, all things being always relative, the Ohio is still not as bad as China’s Yangtze River which has gone yellow from chemical dumping, according to Jim O’Reilly, author of the Law of Fracking, who spoke at the Thursday night hearing.

O’Reilly noted that China is in the process of acquiring interests along the Ohio and that, if regulations are abandoned, “the Yangtze will be the model.”

Health issues

Speakers at the public hearing were largely indignant about threats to their drinking water and air quality. The contamination of Flint, Michigan’s drinking water was alluded to several times.

According to speaker Connie Mayle, “Five million people rely on the Ohio for their tap water.” Mayle also sensibly noted that it’s going to cost a lot of taxpayer dollars for states to reinvent the wheel and draft their own standards for the river.

Robin Blakeman asked “Why give up a system we know works” and “turn the Ohio River into cancer alley?”

But some of the most troubling testimony came from a gentleman who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Because there is no evidence of the illness anywhere in his family history, he suspects environmental causes.

“My only question is: Did I get it through the air, did I get it through the water? .  .  . What exactly caused this? . . . I don’t know. What I do know is that we should be increasing standards  . . .  not decreasing them,” he said.

Click here to see the video.

Open anger

Some speakers were openly angry with ORSANCO reps. John Blair, editor of ValleyWatch.net, went on record with these comments:

“I kept hearing the word ‘revision’ used by Mr. Heath and others tonight. Whenever you’re going to wholesale eliminate something, it’s kind of a platitude, isn’t it, to call it a ‘revision.'”

Linda Newman outright threatened the commission. “This is putting five million people’s lives at risk. This is abdicating your responsibility. If you go forward, members of the commission, with alternative two .  .  . there must be some way to sue you, collectively and individually, for putting our lives at risk. There must be some way to ask, ‘are you going to continue to meet and to pay yourselves and reimburse yourselves for your expenses while you overtly decide to do nothing, to not carry out your mission?’ This is an abdication of your appointed role. And, as citizens, we must hold you accountable.”

Click here to see the video.

Direct line to Donald Trump

Of course, it’s tempting to grumble and blame Donald Trump for everything, including things that take place at the micro-local level.

In this case, however, we can draw a tentative line between the Trump regime and ORSANCO’s willingness to give up on standards that have kept the Ohio somewhat safe for seventy years.

Trump’s now legendary disregard for environmental standards, even those that simply protect public health, have emboldened industry officials to demand that ORSANCO leave abandon its work and let states decide what happens to the Ohio on their watch.

Was it just a dog and pony show?

Several participants noted the absence of any industry leaders arguing on behalf of deregulation.

It makes some of us wonder if the public hearing was just a “dog and pony show,” staged to satisfy the formalities of a public hearing after the deal had already been sealed behind closed doors.

The hearing took place in the Holiday Inn of Erlanger, Kentucky, arguably a few stone throws away from Cincinnati, but not very convenient for most of the people who wanted to speak.

The nearness to the airport was, of course, a great convenience to the ORSANCO members who flew in for the hearing.

Several speakers said that a hearing should take place in Evansville, Indiana which has been hard hit by river pollution.

Also of interest was the size of room which was designed to accommodate about sixty people, and not even big enough to seat all the people who trekked for hours to that out of the way location.

VIP water

As the hearing swung into its third hour, ORSANCO representatives drank water from matching bottles, labeled “VIP” and presumably provided by the Holiday Inn, to those gentlemen only.

The rest of us drank water out of the tap. Presumably processed from the Ohio.

new bottles

What you can do

This is a public comment period, so please comment on or before August 10, 2018.

Email your comments to: PCS@orsanco.org.  Put comments in the body of the regular email. DO NOT ADD AN ATTACHMENT.

PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR FULL NAME AND YOUR FULL ADDRESS WITH YOUR COMMENTS. IF THESE ARE NOT INCLUDED, YOUR COMMENT WILL NOT BECOME PART OF THE RECORD.

Mailed comments should be addressed to: ORSANCO, 5735 Kellogg Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45230, Attn: PCS Comments.

 

 

What they will know from our trash

A thousand years from now, when aliens finally discover the husk of our planet, these are the things they will know about us from our garbage.

The wedding dress

The most important artifact in a woman’s life was her wedding dress. She spent days locating it, often commanding the time of friends and family in the search. She would then wear this dress once.

After that occasion, it would be carefully put away and stored in an air-conditioned temple, away from the bride’s home. These temples charged a monthly fee for the care of the dress, but temple priestesses stole a percentage of the dresses and sold them on a virtual platform called “Craigslist.”

Paper or plastic

There was a great debate about whether paper bags or plastic bags were more destructive of the planet, even though both contributed to the planet’s demise. The population became sharply divided into those who used disposable bags and art bags.

The art bags were carefully designed and crafted, durable bags made of fabric, often canvas, and sometimes string. Care was assigned to the colors and constructions of these bags, and some of them were even used to communicate life philosophies such as “Tread lightly” or “Leave only your footprints” or “Just say ‘neither.'”

Some people even created their own bags out of old clothing, especially an artifact called the “T-shirt.” These hand-crafted bags were highly regarded by their creators and sometimes given as gifts to the wrong people.

Everyone else used plastic bags which were, in general, used once and then discarded. These bags were often used to encase one item purchased from a store. While some store priestesses would ask customers whether they wanted a bag for one or two items, others dispensed the plastic bags with every purchase.

Some big store priestesses resented store pilgrims who brought art bags into big stores. If the pilgrim asked for “no bag,” the priestess would throw an unused plastic bag into the trash to register her disapproval of the art bag people.

Small, outdoor “farmers markets” emerged to give art bag people a place to shop where their bags were valued. Many people reviled these markets as “elitist” bastions of wealthy, bored white people.

Would you like some polystyrene with that coffee?

In the early twenty-first century, everyone knew how to make delicious coffee. There was an amazing array of coffee makers, from percolators to drip systems. Coffee could be made by the pot or by the cup. Arguments concerning the best coffee and the best way to make coffee took up a considerable amount of leisure time.

However, it was a sign of wealth and status to buy coffee away from home and receive it in a throwaway paper or polystyrene cup. Eventually, the production of these cups caused such wide spread deforestation that the earth’s oxygen crashed, killing three quarters of the people and wildlife.