Hidden loan terms prove costly for families seeking pandemic puppies

VIDEO: Pandemic puppies can be costly for some families

Action 9 investigates pet store contracts that can be costly mistakes.

Consumer Investigator Todd Ulrich exposes high risk pet store sales at a time when many families are buying dogs for comfort during the pandemic.

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Like so many others, Jordan Mingorance wanted a dog during these tense times. She found Ellie at a local pet store.

“I’ve been thinking about a puppy just so we could have a companion,” Mingorance said.

She loves her Pekingese, but had severe regrets the first week. She claims loan terms were never discussed when she bought the puppy at Chews A Puppy in Ocoee.

“I said, ‘OK’ and took their word for it and that was my stupid mistake,” Mingorance said.

She thought her Pekingese cost $4500 and she agreed to store financing.

She says the loan document only appeared on a computer screen that a manager quickly scrolled through.

Mingorance said she heard the manager say, “You don’t have to read this now, you can read it later. Just know your payments are $189 a month.”

When she got home, she noticed the interest rate was 95% and after making all the loan payments, her puppy would cost $9,000.

“Do you think they hid the interest rate from you?” Ulrich asked.

“Yes,” Mingorance replied.

Action 9 investigated Chews A Puppy before, after two consumers told Ulrich they were sold sick puppies and the store didn't cover their vet bills.

Mayra Camacho said she lost hundreds of dollars.

“Then I get the letter denying every single bill I submitted,” Camacho said.

Ulrich helped both customers recover vet bill expenses.

Chews A Puppy is rated F at the Better Business Bureau for six unanswered complaints involving sick puppies and contract disputes.

Action 9 showed the terms of Mongorance's loan to consumer attorney Jared Lee.

“It’s an extremely expensive and abusive loan,” Lee said.

He said the store used an out-of-state bank to offer financing so it can exceed loan

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interest caps in Florida. It’s a loan as unfair as payday lending.

“If you borrow money to finance a pet, don’t arrange the finance agreement through the pet store in most circumstances,” Lee said.

Mingorance said if she returns the dog, the store would still keep $2,000 in fees.

Store managers did not return Ulrich’s call.

“I just feel they shouldn’t be taking advantage of people,” Mingorance said.

Buying a puppy can be emotional and that's not a good time to sign a pet store loan contract, especially now.

You’ll pay less using a credit card or going to a credit union instead of their loan at sky high rates.