Tuesday, October 16, 2007

oh, Ellen

One of these days, I'm going to take the time to read up on all this Blogger formatting schtuff and figure out how to do "jumps" where you lucky readers need only read the first couple of lines of a post before deciding to continue on. BUT, since I don't know how to do that yet, let me just give you the old standard: this is about dog stuff and/or other topics that will probably only interest about 2% of you, skip as needed, it's a long one.

So this one has been making the news rounds. Ellen DeGeneres adopted a dog, it didn't get along with her cats so she gave it to her hairdresser. Only thing is, she didn't tell the agency she adopted the dog from so the adoption agency went to go pick the dog up from the new family. Ellen has been getting a lot of support from the public saying with some people referring to the adoption agency as "crazies" or "nazis" and my personal favorite "what does it matter, it's just a dog". I'm going to ignore that last comment because it doesn't have any bearing on what I'm going to argue and LALALALALALALALALALALA I'm sorry I couldn't hear what you just said because I had my fingers stuck in my ears.

C'mon, I know other people don't see dogs as I do--that's fine--live as you gotta live. Again, it doesn't really make a difference here. If this adoption went the way I think most adoptions go-- Ellen signed a contract. I can tell you that the contract more than likely said that in the case the dog did not work out, she had to return the dog to the agency. (most groups I know have this in their contracts and this is what she pretty much said on her show). By giving away the dog, she violated the contract. That, in a nutshell, is what I see is wrong. For example, I could just as easily say "It's just a cell phone" and ignore my contract with Sprint; however, they'd have a pretty good case against me should they pursue me in court. If you want to take issue with the contract and say it's unenforceable or should be unenforceable, that's one thing. But don't say it's okay to ignore a contract that someone entered into knowingly because it's not.

The folks who are defending Ellen are arguing that she found a loving home and that the two little girls she gave the dog to were devastated. And if that is truly the case, here's where I would have done differently. If I were the representative for the adoption agency, I would have gotten the contact information and asked the new family to go through the same adoption process that Ellen went through (minus any fees since that already was paid) and then that way, I could verify for myself that the new family was good and let the new family keep the dog. I wouldn't just storm in there and take the dog. That makes you look like an inflexible asshole--which aside from being fodder for national press, also negatively affects your ability to find new adoptive homes because, man, did you just shoot yourself in the foot PR-wise.

BUT- would I have just let someone give away a dog that I had taken care of and nurtured to just anybody without verifying that the new home was OK? Oh hell no. Sometimes, yes, things work out and if the new family is great, then that is a very lucky happenstance. But I can tell you from years of experience that sometimes these new homes are not as loving as you may think. Sometimes you have a coworker who says they want a dog, they get it and then 6 months later decide THEY don't want it and either stick it in the backyard to rot or give it to some yahoo by the side of the road. You think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. To the right here is just one of a gazzzillion examples I can think of: We got a dog this year that had old tags. We contacted the owner listed on the tags and they told me that they had given the dog away to some friends who were going to take good care of it. This is what the dog looked like seven months later when it landed it the shelter, matted, stinking and dirty. So, you tell me whether that was a "loving home".

Does being a rescue nazi ensure that this never ever happens? No. The unfortunate truth is, sometimes it doesn't matter how much you try to weed out the bad homes. Sometimes no matter what you do, it doesn't end well. You can't predict what people will do or how circumstances will change and sometimes, frankly, people suck. On the flip side, sometimes you can find great new homes for dogs. Sometimes people don't suck. You have no idea how much I wish there were a simple test that would accurately predict whether someone sucks or not. My life would become a million times easier if there were**.

So do I think Ellen is an awful person. Nope. Did the rescue group overreact here? Yes..Maybe. But I know why.

UPDATED: I wrote this before I read the follow up articles that say that the rescue group is keeping the dog because the new family has kids under the age of 14. Ok, now they lost me. That's just...really dumb.

**this, once again, is one of those cases where if you love me, you will not take my words out of context and ever hound me with it. thanks in advance.

1 comment:

Opie's Girl said...

Oh I'll hound you baby.

At least you conceded on the 14-or-under bullshit. Yeah. Whatever. Way to rule out 2/3 of the population from being able to adopt homeless animals there.

And you also conceded that they should have just gone out and done a reasonable inspection of the new home rather than knee-jerk and swipe the dog away. Agreed. If there were red flags upon an inspection, this rescue would have a much stronger leg to stand on in trying to defend itself here than just saying "Oh their children were *gasp* 11 and 13."

But the real bottom line is that this rescue has set animal rescue back BIG TIME by being petty and choosing to enforce some strict contractual provision rather than just being a teensy little bit flexible and bending the rules for a major celebrity. It's disheartening to think of how many people have heard this story and decided that they'll just go straight to a breeder - or a fucking pet shop! - rather than deal with one of these persnickity rescues that thinks a little too highly of itself.

This rescue group had to take its website offline because of the negative publicity it was getting. We all know what that means - the dogs it has on hand are not going to find new homes any time soon, and dogs waiting to get out of kill shelters are not going to get into this rescue group because of the backlog of dogs it's going to be sitting on. I'm disappointed because I know that this situation is a matter of one woman's ego getting the better of her, and that the ones who will pay the price are the animals.

A real shame. SHAME!