Wednesday, October 17, 2007

DeGeneres Flap

Like everybody else, I respond to Ellen DeGeneres' heartfelt plea to the dog rescue agency to not reclaim the dog she gave away to her hairdresser. In case you live on the shady side of Antarctica, DeGeneres adopted a dog through an agency, the dog started eating her cats, so she gave the dog to her hairdresser's kids. The rescue group took the dog back from the new family because DeGeneres had signed a contract stating that she wouldn't rehome the pet without consulting the agency. DeGeneres is sad and wants the dog returned to her friends, and the public consensus is that the rescue agency is being stubborn and mean.

But, after thinking it through, I've decided that DeGeneres is playing dirty pool with her television appeal. She knows what kind of influence she wields, and she should have known what kind of impact this would have across the board. She has guaranteed the vilification of that rescue agency no matter what they do, and how is that going to affect their situation? How is this going to affect other rescue agencies that are being similarly diligent in placing their dogs? According to this, the people behind the rescue have been receiving insulting emails and worse since DeGeneres' appeal. If they have become entrenched or stubborn as a result of this national notoriety, all I can ask is who wouldn't? They didn't deserve this.

I've expressed mixed feelings in the past about the seemingly bureaucratic prequalifications and applications used by some rescue groups, but I know enough to know that the problem is more complicated than my limited experience would allow me to evaluate. As nice as DeGeneres seems, trying to settle the matter on national TV was ultimately manipulative and excessive and doesn't do credit to the efforts of this or other rescue groups.


Patty Dogster said...

Hi there -

Our dog blogger Joy wrote about this

I just feel bad for Iggy and the sad to see them separated.

Great post! Woof!

Ari_1965 said...

The rescue I from which I adopted Buddha also has no-giveaway policy. The shelters and rescues I consider reputable all have similar policies. I wouldn't adopt from a rescue that didn't. I think it shows a commitment to the particular animal and a desire to see that the animal has consistent care.

You know, based on the photos, the dog in question is a smallish yippy-type mix. The hairdresser has two young daughters. I wonder if the rescue had listed this particular yippy mix as inappropriate for a home with small children and that's why they would not consider the hairdresser's house as a home for the dog? Many little dogs, although of course not all of them, are intolerant of small children and have a tendency to snap.

I would be afraid to do business or have a relationship of any kind with DeGeneres. If I annoyed her or disappointed her in any way, would she name me, my business and my location on her show? And any public chance of rebuttal I could manage to get wouldn't be a patch on what she could. It's scary that one person has the power to generate this much one-sided publicity for what is (or should be) a personal matter.

I don't blame the rescue at all for choosing to place the dog with an entirely different family. If I were getting death threats over this situation, I would want to start fresh, too.

Gus said...

Ari said it well. Gussie is from a breed specific rescue group with the same type of requirement, which was explained to us both in person and in writing.

I'd be interested in knowing whether the rescue group knew about the cat situation. Many of them will verify how a dog reacts to cats, children, etc. Maybe she just has nasty cats.

gussies muzzer

Stella and Annie said...

I had two bad experiences with rescue groups when I was trying to adopt. I think the rescue groups can become jaded in their perceptions of the “perfect” dog owner and their homes when comparing them to how they view themselves and their own home. (A biblical verse comes to mind here…something about removing the plank from your own eye before trying to remove a speck of sawdust from another’s eye.) But, I had a great experience with my local Humane Society when I adopted Stella. They said, “You don’t have kids, or cats, or other dogs? You are exactly the adopter we are looking for. You can have any dog you want! AND, if you have any problems, we will work with you to make sure we find you the perfect dog!” This was not at all the attitude of the rescue groups, but one I think they should adopt.

In regards to Ellen’s dilemma, I’m not a big fan of star’s voicing their opinions in general (especially when it comes to politics.) But, I wonder if she tried to work it out with the rescue group privately, but they remained unnecessarily obstinate? If so, I have to wonder if we were celebrities with our own platform and felt a “company” was not listening to us, yet felt passionate about our plea, would we be able to resist the temptation of taking the issue public if we had an easy means to do so?

Nat said...

I see all sides of this. I've also heard the exceptionally threatening voice mail Ellen's lawyers left for the rescue agency, possibly without Ellen's knowledge. I've heard how Ellen has asked people to cool down, but haven't heard mention of her role here as the principal agent of the situation. I've heard how the rescue agency was being petty, and I have seen their upset.

At the end of the day, I like dogs but don't have the drive to do the kind of work to organize a rescue agency. I think there is a sense of love but also single-mindedness and righteousness one needs to follow through on this kind of effort, because there's certainly not a lot of money to be made. And I think that these characteristics can sometimes lead the people running an agency down a path holding people to an unreasonable personal standard that has little to do with being good pet owners-- I have heard many personal stories and am thankful I didn't have to go through it myself. But still, I think they do more good than harm in placing animals-- if new owners have to go through a little hazing perhaps it will weed out the half-assed owners, of which there are plenty. And Ellen's intentional or unintentional scorched-earth method of dressing down this agency was out of line.

FleasGang said...

From what I've read, Ellen wasn't even the legal pup-parent of Iggy. Her "friend", Portia de Rossi was the one who signed the paperwork to get Iggy in the first place. She, (Ellen) messed up and now has to act like an adult and abide by the rules like everyone else. I feel bad for the rescue group because they are gonna look like the bad guy no matter what they do. It's a no win situation for them. If they had let the family keep the dog, that sets a precedent for every other potential adopter to do the same if "it doesn't work out". Ah! I'd better quit before I say something I might regret.

The Fleas

Murphey said...

Wow, gotta agree, at first I was all over in agreement with Ellen. I had been told to build a new fence (so no one could see my dog, chain link wasn't good enough), get a daily dog walker and plan on doggy day care twice a week before I would even be considered for a puppy by one of our local groups, um, okay....but the TV plea was over the top and was truly unfair to the agency.
Crazy times. Oh, Murph likes to eat his treats halfway, bury them, then bring them back months later and leaves the disgusting mess on my pillow. I'd rather find them with the rake...

Penny & Poppy said...

All reputable rescue agencies have the same policy. They don't want a dog to go to an unsuitable home. At first, I, too was on Ellen's side until I thought it through. I was once approved by a rescue agency and I gotta tell ya...I think it would be easier to adopt a human child. They are only trying to make sure the dogs DON'T HAVE to be re-homed AGAIN!!!!