I'm not sure what to make of it, but FLEXPETZ.com claims to offer pet dogs for rent on a daily basis-- at prices so high you'd have to be crazy to do it.
I heard about the site through a mention on a local TV news broadcast. It seemed like such a crazy idea I just had to go look.
Now that I've seen it, I'm tempted to assume it's just another hoax website, like PuppyBeef.com. In fact, it could very well be from the same people, because it's just as exploitative.
If so, the FLEXPETZ website is unusually professional for a hoax. Key elements don't work at all, like the registration system, but otherwise it looks legitimate.
There's nothing about FLEXPETZ here on CNET, but various news stories and blog posts on the Internet suggest the site has been around since 2007. There's no clear indication of whether it's completely legitimate, or ever was, but it doesn't seem to be a hoax.
Offering pet animals for rent isn't inherently immoral, at least in my opinion. It's pretty much equivalent to other businesses that raise performing animals for use in TV shows, and probably better than circuses, since the dogs offered by FLEXPETZ have to be happy and well-adjusted in order to be commercially valuable.
The potential for abuse is large enough to be unacceptable, though. If a dog becomes too old to rent out, would it be retired to private ownership, ideally by some company employee who has formed an attachment with the animal-- or would it be put down? I wouldn't have any confidence that any pet-rental company would do the right thing.
But I think the actual purpose of FLEXPETZ is to exploit its customers. Look at the fees the company charges:
$150 to new members for an in-home orientation
$99 as an administrative fee for each year of membership
$99 (or $99.95; both numbers appear on the site) as a monthly membership fee
$45 per day as a rental fee, with a four-day minimum per month
These fees add up quickly. The first-year cost would be at least $3,597 for the minimum fees alone. Rent a dog seven days a month and you're looking at $5,217.
From the other perspective, the company could make more than $22,000 each year from each dog. An office staffed with just a few workers could provide a good environment for a couple of dozen animals, so it could, in theory, be a real business.
But only if the company can find enough customers with a lot of money and very little moral sense.
I don't think that's going to happen.