Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ellen Degeneres, Dogs, & Rescue Group Missions

O.K. Because I am detroit dog, I must weigh in on the hot topic of comedienne Ellen Degeneres and her current turmoil. The turmoil is a very real and emotional one for her, and I'm sure for others as well.

Ellen recently adopted a dog from a rescue group and, since the dog was a little too rambunctious around her cats, she gave the dog to her hairdresser's family (they were looking to adopt a dog anyway). The rescue group called Ellen to follow up about the dog, and she told them that she'd given it to the family. The group then retrieved the dog, upsetting the family and Ellen.

Ellen Degeneres is one of my favorite "celebrities." She comes across as thoughtful, caring, and as a true animal lover - in addition to be very, very funny.

That said, Ellen Degeneres did the wrong thing - and not just because she'd signed a piece of paper saying she would return the dog to the group if it didn't work out with her. Why was it wrong?

Rescue groups have an inherent mission to ensure the life long welfare of an animal. This is why they interview prospective adoptive 'parents', to be sure that animal is going to be with that person or family for life. If the person/family can no longer care for the animal - no matter the reason - the group takes the pet (in Ellen's case, dog) back, to find it another home. Rescue groups do not want to re-start the cycle which got the animal to them in the first place - unwanted and often abandoned, sometimes abused.

While Ellen definitely had the best of intentions, and more than likely she gave the dog to a good family, she started the cycle - again - of that particular dog being an unwanted pet. For the rescue group to have not reclaimed the dog would have set precedent and completely undermined the mission of rescue groups everywhere.

If the family at some point decided that the dog wasn't working out for them, they might give the dog to someone else, and so on and so on. There's a good chance that the dog might not end up in the best of homes no matter how well intentioned the person passing on the dog. Some person might decide that the dog is not for them, and then it ends up abandoned or in a shelter, or worse.

What Ellen could have done is let the rescue group know that the dog was not working out for her, but that she knew of a good family that was interested in the dog. The group could have interviewed the new family and decided if it was an appropriate family or not. Everyone would be happy all around.

To have gone on TV and cried about it is sad. But it is also somewhat manipulative. She trivialized her contract with the rescue group, and by naming them sought to exert public pressure on them. We can only hope that pro-Ellen sentiment does not adversely affect the group's funding.

Sorry, Ellen. You are in the wrong.

detroit dog's advice: If you cannot keep your dog, seek out a rescue group that will find it a good home. There are lots of breed-specific rescue groups as well. If at all possible, return your pet to the group from which it was adopted.

To watch a video of Ellen talking about this event, click on this link to go to YouTube, and search "Ellen Degeneres Dog".

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