Ellen DeGeneres’ Dog Controversy (Makes Me Happy)

I love that the story of Ellen DeGeneres’ doggy dilemma has made national headlines.  In case you’ve cut yourself off from all forms of communication during the last few days (which is the only way you could avoid hearing about this, at least here in the states), Ellen adopted a dog that didn’t get along with her cat which she then gave it to her hairdresser.  The agency she adopted from claimed this was a violation of her contract and took the dog back (and away from the hairdresser’s little girl who had already fallen in love with it).  What’s worse is that, according to this article on E Ontario Now, 1) the agency entered the home the dog was taken from under false pretenses and 2) the contract probably wasn’t even valid as the agency was not licensed at the time.

So why does a story like that make me happy?  Because I’ve dealt with these types of animal adoption nazis before, and I’m glad some light is being shed on this type of behavior.

I haven’t had any dealings with the particular agency Ellen was involved with (Mutts and Moms), but as a volunteer who has worked with animals in the past, I’ve run into plenty of agencies just like it.  People who start out with good intentions but get so entangled in their own (often useless or even detrimental) rules that they either forget or don’t care about the consequences.

These animal organizations shoot themselves in the foot by complicating the adoption process and driving potential clients away either beforehand with unrealistic and overly controlling contracts or by giving people such a bad experience that they never want to adopt through a charitable organization again (not to mention the agencies giving themselves a bad name which spreads through word-of-mouth).  This not only results in a negative experience for the humans involved, it also means less animals get adopted (and thus, more animals get put to sleep), which is counterproductive to what they’re trying to do.

I’m not saying these agencies shouldn’t have rules and contracts in place to protect the animals — they absolutely should.  I’m just saying that a bit of reasonableness and common sense need to come into play when those rules are being drawn up and enforced.

And to be fair, let’s not forget that the individuals who run these agencies (including Mutts and Moms) are choosing to give up a significant amount of their free time with no reward other than doing something good in the world.  Not only do they usually not get paid, there’s a very good chance they dedicate a good portion of their own income to the success of whatever program they are involved in.

I just hope this story serves as reminder (or a wake up call) to similar organizations that maintaining a balanced perspective and reasonable regulations that benefit both people and animals is the best approach for them, for their clients who are making the adoption, and for the animals themselves.

According to the article mentioned above, the President and CEO of the U.S. Humane Society made the following statement regarding Mutts and Moms:

“Mutts and Moms was too rigid, even though I am sure they are very fine and dedicated people. They were a slave to form and forgot the real-world circumstances. They lost their chance to have Ellen serve as an advocate for them and for animal adoption, instead turning a potentially positive event into a distressing experience for all involved, including Iggy.”

Let’s hope the little girl gets her pet back.

If you’re looking to adopt a pet or volunteer with a pet adoption organization, here are some useful links:

  • Purebred Dog Rescue — if you’re in the United States and you want a certain breed but don’t have $600 lying around
  • Purebred Cat Rescue — same as above, but for cats in the United States
  • Animal Shelter Directory — national directory for the United States
  • U.K. Animal Rescuers — all types of rescue animals, including dogs, cats, reptiles, ferrets, birds, and farm animals, in the United Kingdom
  • dogs4sale.com — a listing of dog rescue organizations in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand
  • Pet Rescue — a site where you can view pictures of individual dogs, cats, and other animals available from rescue organizations in Australia
  • Pets on the Net — find shelters as well as individual animals for adoption in New Zealand
  • Adopt An Animal — over 900 pet adoption rescues, pounds, and shelters in Canada
  • Animal Rescue Work in India — be a volunteer in Delhi, India, and assist in animal welfare and public awareness; you must pay your own way (this would be ideal for people looking for both a travel adventure and to enhance their resume for the animal care industry)


  1. You are so right about many of these rescue organizations. My wife and I have adopted rescued dogs and cats over the last 25 years from different organizations, including the Humane Society. The processes are often tainted by an open dislike and distrust of all humans (by their representatives), treating potential clients like criminals, even after all of there requirements are met.
    We also adopted one of our children, a process that was not as difficult or unpleasant as our last several dog adoptions. I am glad that you had the guts to speak up about this. We still believe in providing homes to rescued pets in need. If the “animal adoption nazis” learned to treat other humans with respect and professionalism, perhaps more people would consider adopting instead of the easier route of supporting puppy mills and over-breeding.
    Thanks, Denny

  2. “We also adopted one of our children, a process that was not as difficult or unpleasant as our last several dog adoptions.”

    Wow! That certainly shows how bad the problem is. Thanks for your input, Denny.

  3. For an interesting take on Ellen, Iggy, pet adoptions, personal responsibility and moral schizophrenia, see here:


  4. Hi, my name is disman-kl, i like your site and i ll be back 😉

  5. […] This weeks blog post is not about photography but I think that it needs to be spoken about. It’s a blog re-post. Many good dogs and cats are not finding homes because many good people (like myself) are being turned away because the volunteers are blinded by their own “do-gooder-ness”. It’s a shame actually because the road to H#ll was paved with good intentions. I love that the story of Ellen DeGeneres' doggy dilemma has made national headlines.  In case you've cut yourself off from all forms of communication during the last few days (which is the only way you could avoid hearing about this, at least here in the states), Ellen adopted a dog that didn't get along with her cat which she then gave it to her hairdresser.  The agency she adopted from claimed this was a violation of her contract and took the d … Read More […]

  6. I know that this is old news now but my best friend just went through a horrible puppy adotion through the Collin County Humane Society (Texas) and found that the fanatics that run this organization do not have the best interest of the animals at heart! They are absolutley too obsessed with thier extremely restictive contract! My friend and her daughter had recently lost a pet and were on the internet looking to adopt a puppy when they found a really cute one on their website. They called, a volunteer brought the puppy out on Christmas Eve and it was love all around! The 2 page contract stated the dog was to be brought into a certian vet clinic within 5 days to be spayed. Because the puppy was so young she called her vet of 10+ years to ask thier advice. She was told that the puppy was much younger then they would advise to spay, but not to worry because they deal with animal rescue organizations and can send them a letter that they would be taking over all vet care including vaccinations and a time line for these and spaying. That’s when everything went crazy! There were 2 days of harrassing and threatening phone calls and emails, starting the day after Christmas! They threatened to have the constable pick up the puppy, they said “I don’t give a SH*& what her your says”, emailed that she would be fined $500 and sued!!! So, sadly the puppy was spayed at what all sane people involved agreed was too young and she will hope for the best. HOWEVER, I will NEVER donate to the HS again and I will spread the BEWARE of ADOPTING from the organizations every chance I get!! Of course, it doesn’t take long to hear about others nightmare stories. Awful people running what should be a wonderful organization! Read every word of the contract BEFORE you even look at any of their animals and know that if you go through with it you better be ready to strictly adhere to every word!

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