Oh, Ellen, we love you but...just admit you're not the dog person you thought you were
I mean, no one’s perfect. Not every household can handle a rescue dog, two cats and two meteoric careers. A mega-busy household is even less likely to take on this kind of stress with the typical aplomb of its other stellar endeavors. We understand. We forgive.
But don’t use your connections and bully pulpit to get around this reality: You should have respected your agreements—not to mention the backbreaking work of rescue groups everywhere—and given the pup back to its rightful rescuers.
In case you haven’t heard (and who hasn’t?) the Sheriff’s office had to be called in to resolve a dispute between Ellen DeGeneres and the dog rescue organization that brokered the adoption between herself and her rescue pup, Iggy. When things didn’t work out in the DeGeneres household, she took it upon herself to find the dog a new home. And that’s a laudable endeavor. It shows responsibility, caring and an ability to get things done. We expect nothing less from this go-get-‘em star.
Problem is, things in the dog world don’t run the same way they do in TV-land—for better or worse. There are rules of conduct in every arena of human intercourse—and the dog rescue world is no exception.
Most rescue groups are fanatical about their policies. They screen applicants to the minutest degree for their pet-worthiness. They require adoptive homes to sign detailed contracts specifying the terms of the adoption. And they generally take their work very seriously—as they should.
Some are extra-cautious, extra-concerned and extra-professional. They view a dog-human adoption situation in much the same light as a child-parent adoption scenario. And while this may sound very strange to some of us, it’s their hard work, devotion and principles on the line—not ours.
So when Ms. DeGeneres decided to give away her adopted dog Iggy to her hairdresser (by all accounts a loving, responsible home), she was breaching a contract with a very dedicated sort of rescue establishment, one who felt it had to act decisively to enforce its policies. Sure, the Sheriff sounds a tad over the top to me, too, but it’s absolutely their prerogative.
So much has been said in the media about the extremes of the rescue group’s reaction. And as a vet who deals in homeless pets every day, I’ll admit that it does rankle somewhat to see a legal battle over whether a rescued dog has star-quality home A vs. star-quality home B. But I’m also in a position to observe the degree of commitment of my rescuers. Even at the risk of seeing fewer pets placed in loving homes, I’ll support them any day over the likes of those who would question their policies for the sake of utility or personal preference.