WATCH: Finance company defends dog rental deals

Posted at 5:45 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 16:09:26-04

Anthony Cook is 22 years old. He told the 41 Action News Investigators his dogs have him broke and stressed out.

In January, he took home one of the two pure bred Pomeranians from the Petland store at the Independence mall after signing a rental deal financed by a company called Wags Lending of Reno, Nevada.

Terms of that deal on the $2,000 dog include two years of payments totaling more than $4,300. Then there's an option to buy the dog for an additional $300 lump sum after all the loan money is paid. It's a contract Cook said he didn't understand.

41 Action News Investigators first reported on this story Wednesday. When asked if he thought he was taken advantage of, Cook responded, "Yes sir, I do."

"We definitely don't encourage anyone to sign contracts that they don't fully understand," said Wags Lending spokeswoman Brooke Rose.

In a Skype interview, Rose told the 41 Action News Investigators her company offers the dog rental deal to customers who may not be able to get traditional loans.

"We work with retailers that we trust and we don't price everyone," she said.

Rose said Wags uses hundreds of data points to determine who is eligible for a contract.

Cook tells 41 Action News he makes $1,400 a month working at a local hospital. Despite obligations including $700 rent, a $350 car payment and a $106 payment for his first dog with a traditional loan from Petland, Cook walked out the door the same day with his second dog and his Wags rental agreement for $181 a month payment.

It left him with less than $63 a month for food, utilities, gas and other expenses.

Rose tells the 41 Action News Investigators Wags would have no way of knowing Cook was financing another dog, even though it came from the same Petland store.

"Something that we might do given this information is actually investigate that retailer," she said.

Rose also says 12 percent of Wags' customers default or fail to live up to their deals.  That figure is nearly six times greater than the national average for all delinquent commercial loans for the last quarter of 2015. According to the Federal Reserve, that figure is 2.19 percent.

At the height of the mortgage crisis, the home delinquent rate in the first quarter of 2010 was 11.2 percent, still less than Wags' 12 percent.

"We're not doing any predatory lending," Rose said. "We're not working with any customers that are struggling."

Because the contract Cook signed is a rental or lease agreement, by law, Wags doesn't have to reveal the interest rate on the money financed and did not in Cook's contract.

Rose says Wags has been doing business for about 2 1/2 years and is already in 41 states, including Missouri and Kansas.


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