Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dog Story

As a pet lover, I found the media brouhaha about Ellen Degeneres’ dog story fascinating. I tend not to pay a whole lot of attention to the rich, famous and paparazzi-fodder types, but in this instance my interest was hooked.

Why? Because of the dog. What was most important, from my perspective, was to determine what was in poor Iggy’s best interests.

In case anyone reading this is unaware, the situation apparently started out when Ellen adopted a tiny and adorable dog from a shelter. Unfortunately, Iggy supposedly didn’t get along with the household’s cats, so Ellen decided to give him to her hairdresser’s family to adopt and adore.

The problem? Apparently, she had signed a contract not to re-home the dog. Finding a new family was to be the agency’s responsibility, not the adopter’s.

From a lawyer’s perspective--which I happen to be--Ellen purportedly breached a contract, so the agency’s “rescuing” the dog from its new home to force compliance with the agreement was entirely appropriate.

From the dog’s perspective? That’s what I really wonder about.

Poor Iggy. Dogs most often shower love and affection on their owners. Being in a shelter had to hurt, in the first place. And then being shuffled to Ellen’s home, then her hairdresser’s, and then a whole new adoptive family found by the shelter... talk about canine confusion.

I guess the outcome was that Iggy will stay at this new and latest home. As long as it’s a loving family who can help him past this trauma--well, okay. I can buy that.

I don’t believe Ellen Degeneres set out intentionally to do anything against the adorable dog’s interests. In fact, she may have felt she was doing everything exactly right, giving up little Iggy to a family she believed would adore him. And, in fact, one of the children in that household was apparently devastated to have Iggy repossessed.

But on the whole, I’m really sad about how all this came down. The shelter owner was subject to death threats. Ellen wept on camera. The child who thought she was getting to adopt Iggy lost that precious puppy. And poor Iggy was cast from home to home. All of them deserve a whole lot better than what happened.

Still, the upshot was to put shelters and pet adoptions in the public eye--not necessarily in the best light, but even so, some attention may wind up being better than none.

I hope that lots more homeless dogs--and kitties too, of course--wind up finding wonderful new homes as a result.



Deb Baker said...

Thanks for making me aware of both sides' POVs. I agree that Ellen probably thought she'd found a great home for the dog, maybe didn't even read all the fine print. The media, as usual, made it a circus event.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


I just thought this could have been handled more humanely for all involved. I understand why Ellen shouldn't have given Iggy away, but in the interest of kindness--and in the larger concern of a good home for a dog--I thought it could have been handled better.