Ellen and Iggy Pup (What Would Angelina Say?)

Oh, MAN! If there are two things I can’t stand, it’s seeing pets in peril and nice people cry.

Ellen DeGeneres is a nice people. She is. Nicer than most people I know … and I know a lot of nice ones. The lady wears her heart on her sleeve without making you want to barf, and her show is a bigger bucket of happy and dancing and presents and people having a good time and nice conversation than everything else on TV combined. Like Barney for grown-ups, but with better music.

Take two episodes of Ellen — except yesterday’s — and call me in the morning. Ten bucks says you’ll feel better.

Ellen is so nice that even when she picks on folks, from an awards-show podium or a stand-up stage, they seem perfectly delighted to have a laugh at their own expense if she’s the one who’s handing out the bill.

Except this time.

I’ll admit it — I sat here at my desk, red-eyed and sniffling as I watched the clip in which she discussed her lateral pass of newly-acquired dog Iggy to her just-like-family hairdresser after he didn’t bond with the feline members of the deDe Rossi-Generes household after a couple, two, three weeks or so. Ellen’s anguish was — and I am certain still is — real and palpable and utterly heartrending. But I couldn’t find much in the way of an actual apology in her confessional, even when the word “sorry” was spoken. And the thin thread of anger throughout? Dangerously misplaced, to my otherwise tenderhearted thinking.

Ellen did several things wrong … not just the one to which she ’fessed up. She and partner Portia de Rossi apparently thought enough of the nonprofit Mutts and Moms, and their goal to find good homes for good critters, to seek them out for their next pet. And then put pen to papers that they did not read (along with any of the ten million Brussels Griffon web sites that say the little fellers are social, hyper, willful, hard to housebreak and demanding — perfect for celebrities who are home a good 15 minutes out of their day. No wonder he was always in the cats’ business. Like him, they had nowhere else to be. PAR-TAY!)

In handing the animal over to another family — even a terrific, doting family — she broke rules designed to protect animals in need. Rules about which she ostensibly thought the world when she walked through the doors of Mutts and Moms. Rules that were clearly spelled out. And rules that left not just Ellen heartbroken, but some little girls, too.

Three things I can’t stand: pets in peril, nice people crying and heartbroken little girls. Okay, four: hypocrisy.

Best I can tell, the agency — or “those people” as Ellen called them after they stopped being her pet-loving pals — did nothing more than follow their own good policy for placing animals for which they were responsible, and expect their clients to do the same. Fact is, had the family to which Ellen gave the dog come to M&M of their own volition, they would have been steered to a breed more appropriate for homes with preteens. Rules. Rules designed to protect pets and families, and to prevent the creatures from being passed around — or worse — the way poor Iggy has been.

And for their good deed, and at Ellen’s hand, they’ve found themselves internationally vilified to the point of death threats — for hurting her feelings and those of her friends.

C’mon, El. You had a bad, bad day, no doubt. You are hurting and people you love are hurting and that can feel like the worse thing in the world. But the fact of the matter is, you owe Mutts and Moms an enormous apology even though, at this point, the enormous damage done has likely rendered it far too late to do any good.

They did not kidnap Iggy and grind him to sawdust — they simply sought to find him a good home. And are seeking that still. If they are still capable of functioning safely after your on-camera very bad day.

6 Comments

  1. It wouldn’t have been a dangerous precedent if the agency had just agreed to monitor the family until they were ok with the dog being in the house. Had they done that, no one would have heard of them.

    Had they even reacted to Ellen’s plea by saying: “You know, normally we don’t do this, but we’re willing to work with you” THAT would have worked to temper the situation.

    They didn’t do either thing.

    And the thing is, if Ellen’s account as reported by E! is true, then THEY broke the rules first by not doing a home evaluation and not transferring ownership on the microchip!

    I understand the need for rules, and I truly understand the need to screen people to make sure dogs are entering into loving homes but sometimes loving homes don’t follow the rules.

  2. I think it is a dangerous precedent to set — if you don’t apply the rules in this case, when DO you apply them? Where — and for whom — is the line solidly drawn or dotted?

    I don’t doubt for a second that Ellen wants the best for the dog. Not one. I don’t doubt for a second that her hairdresser’s home is a fine one. But Ellen did not buy the pet at a pet store, therein making it her possession to give away — and enormous kudos to her for doing so. She got Iggy from a rescue whose responsibility it is to find the pet a permanent, loving home for life. Her responsibility was to give him one. And when she could not do so, it was her responsiblity to return him to the rescue, per their policy and that of most other rescues and shelters around the country

    How about a crappy analogy to sort of illustrate my point: Miss America. Has a duties to fulfill, an example to uphold and a crown to tote around for the good of all involved. If she fails to do that, she doesn’t get to pass said crown to her hairdresser who is also superpretty and has really nice teeth and a lifelong devotion to literacy. She gives the crown back, so the guys in charge can give it to deserving recipient.

    Iggy is a thousand times the prize that is a crown and a years worth of speaking engagements — I think all pet lovers would agree. And he deserves a home that’s can fulfill its duties for the duration — which is what Mutts and Moms wanted in the first place. So how about a happy ending for everyone? Let Ellen devote her time — and her airtime — to helping PLACE animals in need, rather than adopting them unsuccessfully. Do it often, Ellen, and do it by the rules. I’ll tune in for every one.

  3. But even agencies meaning to do good can screw things up, and I think their complete adherence to rules was a mistake. I also think what Ellen did was a mistake.

    The kids are 11 & 12, just shy of the age the agency requires (14) for that breed. That, to me, is pretty weak as an reason. I mean, if the kids are toddlers, that’s different. Yes, rules are rules, but I think they overreacted in this case.

    Plus, with the little I know about Ellen’s show (I rarely watch it) it seems like the agency was a bit naive thinking that she wouldn’t say anything on her show about it. I think Ellen thought she would make her appeal, the dog would go back, and all would be good. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and now pride’s in the way…

    It’s icky all the way around.

  4. ELLEN DEGENERES SPEAKS EXCLUSIVELY WITH E! NEWS’ RYAN SEACREST ABOUT THE BATTLE SHE IS IN WITH LOCAL PET ADOPTION AGENCY
    Tune-In Tonight, Oct. 17 to E! NEWS (7:00pm/11:00pm ET/PT).

    Talk show host Ellen Degeneres tearfully opened up to E! NEWS’ Ryan Seacrest about the very public controversy she is in over a little black dog named Iggy. It all started when Degeneres adopted Iggy from Mutts & Moms, a local private Southern California pet adoption agency. After spending approximately $3,000 on training and neutering, including a $400 donation to the agency, Iggy’s acclimation with the household’s feline population was not working out. Degeneres decided to give Iggy to her hairstylist, who had young children at home and would ensure a healthy, safe and loving environment.

    “Iggy’s health and safety has always been # 1,” Degeneres said.

    After hearing Iggy was no longer living with Degeneres she was contacted by Marina Batkis, one of the owners of Mutts & Moms. Batkis said the transferring of homes was in violation of the agreement she entered in with Degeneres when Iggy was adopted. However, according to Degeneres, she never filled out an application and no one ever came out to do a home evaluation, as most private agencies require. In addition the name on the microchip implanted in Iggy was not properly transferred from Batkis to Degeneres, instead Batkis’ name remained as the dog’s owner.

    Degeneres explained that she spoke to Batkis who said that she needed to go and get Iggy back. “I begged her not take the dog and that Iggy was in a good home.” Batkis backed down and agreed she would just do a home evaluation with the stylist’s family. “That is why I gave her the address of my hairstylist,” Degeneres said.

    Upon arriving, Batkis picked up the dog and would not put it down for 3 hours, stating she was removing the dog from the house. After the stylist and her kids cried and begged Batkis to not take Iggy, Degeneres was called and rushed over to the house, but was 5 minutes too late. Police and animal control couldn’t stop Marina from taking the dog since the chip had her name as Iggy’s owner.

    Degeneres wanted everyone to know that the “bigger picture is for everyone to be aware of their rights, the chip has to have the rightful owner’s name on it otherwise their dog can be taken away.”

    This seems to be “about punishing me and that’s fine…I never intended to do anything but to place the dog in a loving home,” Degeneres said. “Seven million dogs are euthanized each year and this should be about rescuing the dogs.”

    In the end, Degeneres said Batkis placed Iggy with another family because she wanted people to leave her alone. After hearing that Batkis has received death threats after Degeneres’ tearful plea for Iggy’s return on her talk show yesterday, she explained that “people are acting out and this is not about getting back at Marina- I just want the dog to go back to the family.”

    “I found a good home for the dog, the dog was loved and walked 5 times a day,” Degeneres explained to Seacrest. “I made a big mistake and never wanted the family or the dog to suffer.”

  5. You and me both, sister. And I have to agree with your point about the agency’s motivations, given that Ellen has, well, “re-placed” other animals as well.

    But they did say why:

    http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=6e982e8c-4080-4044-b941-cec226782721&sid=fd-news

    And given the breed, it IS a good point.

    I guess the part that worries me most that she very publicly attacked an organization that, at its heart is trying to do good, when the ultimate responsibility for all the heartache is still her own. Had she given the dog back to the agency, as the contract stated, the family would not have become attached to a dog that was not theirs to keep. And I don’t know about you, but my beloved longtime pets would still trade me up in a minute for someone who would feed them wet food every day — much less after 10 short days. Not short for people — especially kids — but pets. Yeah. Kinda.

    I agree with my whole heart it is a bummer situation all around — and for the love of GAWD, I still love Ellen and dogs and people who love dogs. But I think it’s a little tough to accuse M&M of being swayed by celebrity and then expect the rules to be broken because this case got a ton of publicity no one expected. If they were really looking to court said celebrity they would would have winked at the error and looked the other way.

    I dunno. Just my two cents.

  6. Ok, but what I don’t understand is why Mutts and Moms didn’t seem to try and vet the new family. Regardless of whether or not the breed is ‘right’ for the particular family, the family and the dog had bonded. If Mutts and Moms truly doesn’t believe this is the right family for the dog, they should state WHY.

    Seems to me that they’re adhering to the strictest interpretation of the rules BECAUSE of the celebrity factor. Rules are necessary, and I know that the rules of Mutts and Moms aren’t out of the ordinary at all. And yes, it’s stupid to sign something you don’t read. However, there always comes a time when rules need to be broken, and this seems to be one of those times.

    And, ok, how on earth did they vet Ellen & Portia to take the dog in the first place, given what you stated about the breed? That doesn’t speak well for the organization’s screening processes. Or perhaps they wanted a celebrity client? I can’t know their motivations, but more communication from them would help clarify their position beyond “it’s the rules.”

    As you said, I think both sides are hurting, and both sides should get an apology, but I think the removal of the dog from the home wasn’t the best decision.

    As someone who’s been very attached to a couple of ‘passed-down pets’ for about 7 years, I’m eternally grateful that something like this didn’t happen to me.

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.