As the author of two books on rescued pets (Happy Hound and Happy Tabby) and a person who spent years volunteering at animal shelters, I think the whole Ellen DeGeneres “poochgate” fiasco is depressing. Her weepy actions on TV may have set back the efforts of other rescuers around the country by portraying them in a bad light. Rescuers are not the “bad guys” here and the fact that the rescue group is getting death threats is sickening.
I can see why the Mutts and Moms rescue group have the contract they do. Ellen DeGeneres admitted that she didn’t even READ the contract. Had she actually done so, the whole incident could have been handled differently. For example, Ellen might have contacted the rescue and told them that she couldn’t keep the dog, but knew of a wonderful home. The hairdresser could have gone through the adoption process, signed the contract, and everything would have been fine.
Rescues have learned that over the years that contracts are required to deal with the legalities surrounding ownership because of liability concerns. Rescue groups and shelters have a return clause, so the dog doesn’t wind up back at a shelter, used for medical research, dog fighting, or in any number of other inhumane situations. Or dead. The bottom line is that they are trying to do what they can to look out for the animal’s welfare. It also is important to legally transfer ownership for liability reasons. Rescues and shelters have had to pay damages and even been shut down because of dog bite lawsuits.
Instead of vilifying the rescue group, journalists should be asking why Ellen should get special treatment in the first place. (Her world is full of contracts; she’d be upset if someone violated one of the contracts related to her TV show, after all.) I really hope there isn’t going to be a permanent effect from this mess because the real losers will be all the animals that don’t get adopted through rescue because one self-centered woman had a weepfest on TV.