Ellen Degeneres and Iggy: Whose Side are you on?

Since I can’t find an open thread I’ll open one- if there is an open one this one can be closed.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the news in a few days, there’s some bad stuff happening in Iraq but it pales to the fate of Iggy (I say with full sense of irony as to which one I’m starting a thread over). The basics:

Ellen DeGeneres, a lesbian who is not Dick Cheney’s daughter, and her partner Portia DeRossi, also a lesbian who is not Dick Cheney’s daughter, adopted a Brussels Griffon puppy from a pet agency called Mutts & Moms. When she and Portia could not keep the dog because it did not get along with their cats, Ellen found another home for it with her hairdresser and the hairdresser’s young daughters. A clause in the adoption contract, however, stipulated that if anyone adopting a dog could not keep it, the agency could and would take the pet back.
I think it’s still being objective to say that the agency was very heavy handed in the way they did this, showing up at the hairdresser’s house with police officers to take the dogs.
Ellen went on her talkshow and told of the incident, crying and breaking down, pleading with the agency to give the dog back to the hairdresser’s family. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of emails, hundreds of angry calls, and allegedly some death threats against the agency’s owner, Marina Baktis, who claims she’s had to be medicated for anxiety and heart palpitations and has taken down her web-site. Meanwhile, the dog is supposedly in another family.
You can read all about this everywhere- here and here or typing Iggy Degeneres into Google. Ellen has since apologized for the harassment of the Mutts & Moms (though I’m guessing she’s also saying “heh heh heh” on some inner dark level).

So, what side of the kennel are you on? Was the agency acting reasonably in repossessing the dog? Should they put it back with the hairdresser? Was Ellen unreasonable in going on national TV to speak against somebody without access to national forum.

I guess I missed this for a while, because last night we were watching TV and they showed a clip of Ellen sobbing hysterically, and I was dumbfounded. My husband, who listens to way too much talk radio, filled me in.

a) This is, if possible, even dumber than the whole Natalee obsession thing.

b) The adoption agency was within its rights (though they didn’t handle it too well).

c) Ellen was way in the wrong to give the dog away and then sob on TV as if 20 helpless orphans had just been sold to depraved manaics.

d) I’m hoping never to have to think about this ever again.

I think both sides handled it badly, but if you’re going to put a gun to my head, I’m on Ellen’s side.

With the glut of orphan pets out there, finding good homes is extremely important. You don’t want the pet back in the system. That said, Ellen spent $3000 trying to train the puppy and get it acclimated, and it didn’t work out. So, she found it another home.

Should she have abided by the terms of the contract? Yes, but we’re talking about pet adoption here, not buying a house. I strongly believe the adoption agency could have been a bit more understanding, “Oh, okay, sorry it didn’t work out, give me the name of who you gave it to so we can check them out.” I think they unnecessarily traumatized two little girls who had their pet snatched from them.

On the other hand, Ellen was a bit too open with her personal life on her TV show. This is something that could have been resolved behind the scenes. Instead, she involved her audience in something that quite frankly, was none of their business. I think she thought she might have been helping, but instead, she aggravated the situation. And it sounds like the pet adoption agency is feeling very put upon, is digging in their heels, and is probably less likely to work with Ellen on this matter.

I do hope there can be some quiet apologies and that the hairstylist’s family can get Iggy back.

eta: I’m wondering if the adoption agency didn’t deliberately find another family for Iggy just to spit in Ellen’s face “Take that!”

I love this excerpt from one of the articles in the OP:

Other than the fact one involved humans and a major clash between a democracy and a communist state with 50 years of armed-to-the-teeth animosity between them and resulted in near riots in two countries and blemished a presidency and achieved worldwide attention and scorn for the use of gestapo tactics in dragging a child from a house and then returning him to a Third World Country his mother had died to escape from, and the other involved a dog and a talkshow host, the analogy is uncanny.

The adoption group did not permit households with young children to adopt this type of small dog (a policy which is apparently not uncommon). As the household the dog was given to contained young children, it was not a qualifying home for the dog in their view.

So true. We have been on Iggy-watch all week. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to watch TV much this week (other than when traveling between floors in my building at work; the elevators have a small television in there, permitting workers to watch 10 to 15 seconds of “breaking news” or “Deal or No Deal.”) Although we have been vigilantly riding the elevator, we haven’t yet caught this on the TV – tell me, please, does it have a theme song yet? a catchy graphic?

Oh, and I’m on Ellen’s side. Fascist animal rescue group with their “rules” and “contracts” – what are rules and contracts when compared to the love of two small children and the tears of a tv star?

I have to side with the dog rescue. One of their adoption criteria (besides that if it doesn’t work out, the dog comes back here) is that they don’t adopt to homes with small kids. Ellen just handed the dog over to the first person who would take it off her hands, it seems like. And if she spent $3K on that dog, she sure didn’t give it much of a chance - she only took posession less than a month ago. A commitment to a pet is supposed to be more than “geez - the dog is too rambuctious. Let’s get rid of it”. Animals aren’t supposed to be disposable. And since there are so many pets out there, I’m sure that the hairdresser and her kids can take themselves to the local pound and adopt another dog. They haven’t had the dog for more than a week or two.

Ellen can’t decide that contracts and rules don’t apply to her just because she has a TV show.


I’m sure it never occurred to Ellen to read the fine print about the adoption policy, so I’m confident her actions were with the best intentions and on perfectly good faith.

The adoption agency, though technically in the right, were absolute idiots in how they handled this. Such a policy makes sense as a safeguard to ensure quality homes for their animals, but they threw down the gauntlet when they insisted on being as resolutely inflexible as possible on the matter. Involving the police? Good grief.

They’re also idiots if they thought they could do something like this (and the way they did it) and not have Ellen talk about it on the show. This isn’t Letterman or Leno–the daytime talk ladies (Oprah, Tyra, the View chicks) absolutely love baring their private lives. Did they honestly think they could be as militant in their behavior and not have it come up as a topic?

And let’s get one thing straight–everything I’ve seen from Ellen (admittedly excerpts; I don’t watch the show) has been about giving the dog a new home, her friend’s girls a new puppy, and about her simple wish to do the right thing. Any threats or abuse that the agency is receiving is based on their actions, and not on Ellen’s attempts to incite overt ill will. Everything I’ve seen shows she simply wants it resolved so the family gets to keep the dog. Is she getting a little too emotional about it? Maybe, but that pales in comparison with the truly disastrous way this has been handled on the agency’s end.

I’m quite firmly on Ellen’s side. Seems like the pet agency is such a stickler for rules they don’t care to check whether the home was loving or not, just went in and dog-snatched.

As somebody who works in rescue, I understand the point of view of the rescue org. This is not a breed mix that should have been placed in a family with small children. There is also a liability issue, should the dog have potential aggression problems. There is more at play here than just “place the dog”. That’s what people don’t get. The contract, at the core, may sound heavy handed, but the rescue needs to protect its ass – this is a litigious society we live in, folks. And, in the end, say the dog turned around and bit one of the hairdresser’s kids? Ellen could turn around and sue the rescue for non-disclosure of problems with the dog… and so on… just gah. No no no. First right of refusal on the placement went to rescue. The dog should have gone back to THEM. Case closed.

It was well within their rights to repossess the dog. The plea on the air was a dumb move. The idiot fans who freaked out and then started their campaign are a bunch of drooling morons. That’s the power of “star power”, my friends. This may cause irreparable harm to rescues everywhere in the US. In the end, its going to harm dogs and cats, and kids… and families who end up with the wrong kinds of pets. Not the Ellens of the world.

It’s a sad, stupid situation.

Well, not to quibble this point, but I don’t consider 11-12 year olds to be “small children.” If they were 5-6, okay.

The article said under 14. Fine. But that still doesn’t change my mind that it was handled badly on all sides.

I think Ellen handled very poorly, but I have dealt with a lot of animal rescues and not surpisingly some of them can be very smug and self righteous, because you know they are saving animals (which is a good thing), but then they get to act like they are arbiters of all that is right for the world’s pets. I understand the need and desire to make sure the pets end up in a good home, but some of these places just go overboard with it. While the agency was within their tights I think their restriction on kids is too strict. I think what they should have done was use some common sense and seen if the family that had Iggy was suitable, regardless of the kids ages.

Factual Question: Can you really get the police to show up and enforce the terms of a contract? I would have thought you would need to go to court for something like that.

As someone who deals with situations like this from time to time, I have two points to make.

  1. Never sign a contract you haven’t read.
  2. The shelter is made up of individuals who volunteer their time. Their rules are there because that is how they want to do things. If anyone feels that the rules should be different, by all means start your own shelter. Deal with the dog shit, headaches, etc on your own. Then you are entitled to set your own policies.

What ArchiveGuy said.

The rules that vary from shelter to shelter exist for the purpose of preventing the adopted animals from ending up worse-off than they were in the shelter (neglected, housed in an unsafe manner, exploited, etc).

I’m assuming that “Moms and Mutts” or whatever they’re called are operating on limited resources, and that there is no shortage of cases where the rules are broken in such a way that animals are actually put at risk. If they wanted to make an example out of someone in order to bring to light the reasons behind actual intent of their rules, they chose poorly.

I do not swallow the age limit rule as being a significant tool to keep small dogs safer. Yes, there will be some incompatible mixes between the households with children and small dogs. No, I do not buy that such things will occur at a statistically significant frequency compared to any other incompatible mix of animals of any size and households of any demographic variety.

See, this to me is absolutely the most WTF element of the story. $3K in therapy to bring a dog into your home? What. The. Fuck.

Maybe they did?

After watching Animal Cops, I discovered that there are entire depertments within the court and police departments that handle animal abuse issues. In the New York based show, they have armed detectives with arrest powers who investigate complaints, and Judges who hear cases of cruelty.

I don’t think Ellen meant any ill but she was wrong. She had a contract she didn’t honor and then used her TV show to try and continue to not honor the contract she voluntarily entered. Just because you have a TV show and can get people to harrass and badger other’s into doing what you want does not mean you are above the law.

the police allowed Venessa to take the dog as it was wearing some sort of electronic dog tag thingy (what did the guy say?) that showed the agency as the owners. - video

on Ellen’s side. it’s her talkshow. the whole point of it was that she shares some of her personal life on it, why should she hold back if she doesn’t want to?

has a new appreciation for youtube

Ellen earns her money honestly. She can legally spend it anyway she wants to.

However, she is not above the law. The contract had a clause that she had to either keep the dog or return it to the agency. She did not have the legal right to give Iggy to anyone else. She could have returned the dog and then recommend that the new owners try and get the dog from the agency.

Stardom is no justification for breaking an enforceable contract.