Blog / Random thoughts and musings.


Ellen DeGeneres and Iggy

If you haven’t been watching “Iggygate” on the news, here’s the short scoop: Ellen adopted a dog from an animal rescue. After a couple weeks she decided it wasn’t working out, so she gave the dog to her hairdresser. This violated her adoption agreement, which said the dog goes back to the rescue if she can’t take care of it, so the rescue went and took the dog. She had an emotional breakdown on her show begging the rescue to give the dog back to the hairdresser.

News coverage has been excessive, and a piece on CNN’s Anderson Cooper was very one-sided and made the volunteers at the rescue sound stupid and cold-hearted for doing such a thing. The rescue has been receiving many threats of violence over this.

Since we’ve volunteered for an animal rescue for many years, and we have the same policy about giving away dogs, I felt I had to write to Anderson Cooper after seeing his video.

Mr. Cooper,

After watching your comments with Erica Hill about the Ellen DeGeneres dog adoption situation, I felt I needed to give you some perspective on the other side of the story.

I volunteer for a dog rescue in Virginia. Our rescue, and many in the country (if not most) have the same policy – if you can no longer care for the dog, it must be returned to the rescue. The reason is simple: once we take in a dog to one of our foster homes, we are responsible for ensuring the welfare of that dog. Before a family can adopt from us, we do background checks, house checks, and interviews. We want to ensure that the adopting family will be responsible dog owners and treat our dogs the way we would.

If a family gives away a dog, the rescue has no idea if that family adheres to the same philosophy as the rescue. Perhaps they plan to install an invisible “shock” fence, or to build a dog house and keep the dog outside rather than inside. Both of these situations, and many more, would not be acceptable dog treatment by most rescues. Most rescues do make provisions so that if there is another family you wish your dog to go to when you pass away, are called for military service, etc., we will hold the dog and ask the new family to apply so that we can do our background checks.

Looking at it from a more personal perspective might help: Let’s say you have a dog named Danny, who you love dearly, but for one reason or another have no choice but to give him up. You have a friend who you know and trust, and give Danny him, knowing Danny will have a good home. You say “let me know if there are any problems, since I have another friend who can take care of Danny instead.” Two weeks later, you ask your friend how Danny is doing, and your friend says “It wasn’t working out so I gave him away.” I think — I hope — that you would be upset by this, and would make an effort to get your dog back so that you could give it to your other friend. This is exactly what the rescue has done in Iggy’s case.

Volunteers at dog rescues work very hard to rescue, rehabilitate, and find new homes for abused, runaway, and unwanted dogs. We see terrible cases of abuse and neglect, and it is our mission to ensure that these dogs never go through that again. The dogs live in our foster homes with our families and other dogs, and are treated as part of our family until they are adopted out. We receive threats — even death threats — from people when we do not approve their applications.

I hope this gives you some additional perspective on how animal rescue organizations work, and why dogs need to return to the rescue rather than be given away.

Thanks for listening,

Michael Fischer


1 Comment

  1. Ben
    October 19, 2007

    You might want to post a similar response to the Salon as they have a rather vindictive article on the subject.