Dear Ellen DeGeneres – You’re wrong. Now stop it.

UPDATE:
I just read that the dog’s been placed in another home.  Admittedly, this had me a little surprised at first but upon reflection, not so much.

At first thought, why in God’s name would you place the dog in a home different from one that clearly wanted it?  Well, there’s some easy explanations.

  1. Someone came to adopt the dog before Ellen’s hairdresser’s family did.  Why wouldn’t you hold it?  Well, if you wanted the media circus to go away, this would be a quick way to deal with it.
  2. The family never approached the adoption group to adopt the dog properly and felt intimidated about approaching the family after the death threats, the TMZ/People Magazine/CNN media circus.  So they quickly found an adopting family to put the situation to rest.

The bottom line is that if the family had just approached the adoption organization and asked to properly follow the adoption procedure, I doubt this would have happened.

And I’m sure there was a "defiance" element to all of this on behalf of Mutts & Moms.  After reading some of the things written at http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20152846,00.html, I’m sure there was a little "me against the world" attitude coming off of the adoption leadership.  But hell – wouldn’t you be aggressively on guard if you were dealing with a media mogul that had "broken the rules"?

I will throw this in there however: 
If the family did at any time approach Mutts & Moms to adopt the dog before anyone else did, and the adoption group explicitly chose to adopt the dog to someone else for no reason other than what one could only describe as "spite", then this would definitely be mean spirited, cruel, and frankly dumb, being that this could have all had a happy ending in this scenario with everyone saving face.

ORIGINAL POST:
I understand that Ellen DeGeneres adopted a dog and subsequently gave the dog away to someone else violating the adoption contract stating that transferring ownership is prohibited. 

image image STRIKE ONE
Folks – This is a very standard policy of animal adoption stipulated in the adoption contract:  You don’t give away an animal after it’s been adopted.  Period.  End of story.  It doesn’t matter the adopted dog doesn’t get along with a cat that’s already present in the home.  You return it to the adoption organization and you do NOT GIVE IT AWAY. 

When people give adopted pets away like this, the adoption organization’s careful screening/interviewing process is all for naught, so naturally the dog was retrieved after it was discovered that Ellen DeGeneres reportedly wrongfully broke the contract.

STRIKE TWO
What made the situation even worse was that Ellen decided to take things to the airwaves.  She intentionally used her TV show to tell the world in a tear jerking statement pleading her ignorance of the very contract she signed, then telling her viewership that the adoption group should return the dog to the family Ellen gave it to – despite her contractual obligations to return the dog to the adoption group.  In that instant, she wrongfully turned millions of TV viewers against a small, two-person adoption organization called "Mutts and Moms".  Then she talked to the likes of TMZ, who managed to turn the story into a "little girl vs. maniacal woman". (http://www.tmz.com/2007/10/15/ellen-degeneres-doggone-nightmare/58How about a little balance in the story TMZ and tell what happens to thousands of dogs that get misplaced in inappropriate homes?  Or is that too hard to imagine that someone would actually care for the welfare of the dog before the whimpering of a kid?

So naturally, the nutjobs came out of the woodwork.  Both Marina Batkis and Vanessa Chekroun, the founders of the adoption organization have been deluged with email, phone calls, and several death threats.  They even had to take down their web site on Petfinder (http://www.muttsandmoms.org/) meaning all those dogs that Mutt & Moms were trying to find homes for will need to continue to go without homes because they’re not being advertised as available for adoption.

STRIKE THREE
Ellen, apparently realizing she made a bad situation even worse, continued to make it worse by getting on the airwaves again, prolonging the entire catastrophe, and generating even MORE publicity by saying, "I want nothing, nothing more than that dog returned to that family. But you don’t resort to violence. So anybody out there, please stop that. Please don’t threaten or do whatever."

Oh yeah.  That’ll fix it.  One things for sure:  I hope Ellen’s lawyers are warmed up, because it appears that Mutts & Moms have signed up a lawyer to do the talking for them.  See the link:  http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=114&sid=1268988

I smell a large cash donation to Mutts & Moms being made on behalf of one E. DEGENERES.  Out of court of course.

ANY HOME IS NOT A GOOD HOME
First of all, I have more experience than 99% of the people out there in getting animals adopted, and the whole, "Isn’t just getting a home for the dog enough" argument doesn’t hold water.  Why?  It’s the equivalent of the old Machiavellian rule, "The ends justifies the means".  The people supporting Ellen are probably the same folks that publicly denounce Bush’s invasive Patriot Act which purports to permit wiretapping on US citizen’s phones without warrants to "protect the welfare of the citizens of the United States", because hey – "Ends justifies the means" right?

Yes, I’ve worked with animal rescues for quite a while, an unknown home is NOT a good home.  I can tell you that I’ve seen my share of dogs that have been adopted into THE WRONG HOMES – and this can be a veritable death sentence to the poor dog. 

In the same way that people wrongfully assume that dog shelters are filled with nothing but "abused animals", (which is completely and totally untrue – most of the animals are anything but abused, but rather, are just lost souls without some place consistent to live at) people also wrongly assume that "any home is a good home."

  • I’ve seen dogs accidentally go into places with unsanitary conditions.
  • I’ve heard of dogs going to homes with abusive children.
  • I’ve seen dogs almost go to new homes with other existing, aggressive, territorial dogs.
  • I’ve seen dogs go to homes with family members that don’t have the intellectual capacity to properly treat the animal nicely in an unsupervised fashion.
  • I’ve seen dogs go to hoarders – people that adopt dogs repeatedly because of a mental condition they have.  One dog went to a home with dozens of other dogs.  (It was later retrieved of course)
  • I’ve seen many people attempt to adopt dogs with the intention of "teaching it to fight other dogs".
  • I’ve seen folks adopt dogs only by outright lying all the way through the screening process, only to be caught later during the subsequent "check up" on the dog.

RULES ARE RULES… TO PROTECT EVERYONE, NOT JUST THE DOG
It doesn’t matter what Ellen’s intentions were.  The rules exist for a very good reason. 

The safety & security of the life of a dog TRUMPS A CHILD’S HURT FEELINGS.
(Even when a big name celebrity is the one that screws things up.)

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and boy, for Mutts & Moms, they were riding in a limo straight to the hell they’re in right now driven by Ellen’s personal chauffeur.

But what about Ellen?  Isn’t she just as capable of identifying a suitable home for the dog?  Here’s the part that’s going to rock your world:  Probably.  But that’s neither up to her or you or me to decide.  We live in a litigious society and the organization that harbors the adoptee is ultimately responsible for the dogs welfare.

This area of community service has its share of complete & utter quacks, folks – and this includes the activists as well as the overbearing public.  These are the folks that will string you up a flagpole with threats of legal action and calls to the police claiming animal abuse or improper treatment.  All it takes is one call and you’re in a world of hurt both financially as well as time-wise, not to mention it’ll drive you batty.

Gettin’ the picture now?  Knowingly allowing Ellen to place the dog without following strict guidelines places the adoption group in the uncomfortable position of being open to assault by some nutjob fanatic.  And believe me – there’s plenty of those out there.

THE ANSWER?
The sick part is there’s a very simple answer to all of this, and it’s not pleading and begging on TV to "return the dog" to the home that it was never destined for: 

Just have the family go to get screened properly.

This is so simple and it could have all been avoided.  All they have to do is go to the adoption organization and be interviewed properly and go through the screening test.  End of story.  Their home will likely need to be inspected and their children interviewed as well.  In other words, do it right:  Go through the process as an adopter would and if it works out, great!  If not, that’s the way it goes.

But don’t take your plea to TV.  That’s taking a sledgehammer to thumbtack.  I’d donate a bunch of money to Mutts & Moms… if I could reach them.  Unfortunately, they’ve been smeared off the map.

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