When [Rescue] Worlds Collide - Ellen/Mutts & Moms, please read
Posted by: Wed Oct 24, 2007 5:06 pm (PST) From: Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 10:26 PM To: Subject: Important Message from Scott Sorrentino of Rescue Alliance re: Ellen and Mutts and Moms Importance: High
Please network this to the rescue community and to whoever else needs to see it. This has spun way out of control, and these are the facts according to Scott. What a shame to ALL animal lovers that there has been such a media frenzy over this - it has definitely not helped the rescue effort, and has done nothing to help save the lives of those who need help.
He also says that Marina Baktis of Mutts & Moms will probably need help with placing her animals. He says that if any RHA-LA members are willing to help, please email him at rescuealliancerescuealliance@earthlink. Net and he will put you in touch with her. In addition, he will forward to her any emails of support which I'm sure she would appreciate.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~ From: Rescue Alliance rescuealliance@ earthlink. net Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 4:51 PM To: Rescue Alliance Subject: Important Message from Scott Sorrentino Importance: High
When Worlds Collide
In the world of rescuers, companion animals are no different than children. They need our protection as they cannot survive on their own. They need our advocacy, as they cannot speak for themselves. They need our compassion, as their suffering is real.
Our world, the world of animal guardians, is fundamentally different than the world in which the majority of humans on the planet live, and there is nothing wrong with that. But however distant we think our world is from the average human, the world of celebrities is on another planet, in another galaxy, maybe even in an alternate universe.
When Marina Baktis of Mutts & Moms rescue explained to her celebrity adopters that only Mutts & Moms could re-home Iggy, and that he needed to be returned immediately, it was the beginning of a surreal sequence of events that could only happen in Hollywood. What we need now is a good, old-fashioned Hollywood ending ...
RHA-LA was contacted almost immediately for comment, and what I said was this: "There is only one side in this controversy that concerns me, and that is Iggy's side. The right thing to do is always what is best for the animal, and anyone who doesn't understand that has no business in animal rescue."
Of course, no one printed my comment, because none of them understood it. It was a comment from another world.
Marina very quickly became inaccessible (for obvious reasons), and unfortunately without knowing the facts, it was extremely difficult to comment on this situation, or help in any meaningful way. There may have been an opportunity early on for reconciliation, but that window quickly closed as the parties began to dig in their heels.
For those of you who do not know Marina Baktis, she was a volunteer with LA Animal Services for many years. She was a constant presence at the North Central shelter to which anyone at that shelter can attest. As heartbreaking as it was, she chose to volunteer her time right where all the killing takes place, trying to make a difference. She also worked with the Bill Foundation (an RHA-LA member).
Day after day she would see litters of puppies with their mothers at the shelter, and watch as the puppies were adopted and the moms left behind to be killed. About three years ago, she started Mutts & Moms with her rescue partner, Vanessa, and for the past year and a half, they have been pulling primarily from the extremely high-kill Kern County shelters (including pulling for other rescues). The mission of Mutts & Moms is to save as many of these moms as possible. It's hard to imagine a more noble cause.
I finally spoke to Marina at length on Friday. I think it's important that some of the facts be clarified, as they have been hugely distorted by the media. You may still disagree with how Marina handled the situation, but that is irrelevant now. She has lost her rescue, her business has been crippled, her life has been threatened, and she has been demonized on national television. Those worlds may be lost to her, so we are the world she has left. Will we stand with her as friends and colleagues, or abandon her?
Please read below before you decide.
Marina's account of the story:
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi came to Marina's store in Pasadena and saw a dog they were interested in adopting. Her name was Tasha.
Tasha had not been cat-tested, and Ellen has two cats, so Marina decided to let them take the Tasha home for the afternoon to see how she would get along with Elllen's other animals. After adoptions, Ellen called to say that Tasha was not cat-friendly, and Marina left straight away to pick her up. Iggy, who Ellen & Portia had also met and liked at adoptions, was in the car with her. He had recently been rescued from the Bakersfield shelter, and was being treated for an upper respiratory infection. That is why he was un-neutered. They looked at Iggy again, Iggy played in the yard with Ellen's other dog, and was briefly introduced to her cats. No adoption took place, and Marina left with both Tasha and Iggy. That night, Ellen left a message that they had decided to adopt Iggy. She said they had a trainer who could socialize Iggy with cats. Portia came to the store the next day to sign the adoption agreement, which Marina explained in detail, including how if there was ever a problem Iggy would have to be returned to Mutts & Moms. Portia said that she understood. Marina told her that she would need to bring Iggy back to be neutered when he was finished with his medication, and she circled the provision stating the same in the adoption contract. Marina told Portia that the neuter was included in the adoption, but Portia said they would like to take care of Iggy's surgery themselves with their own vet. Portia left the store with Iggy.
There were several email follow-ups, including how Iggy was playing happily with their dog, not bothering the cats, and how Iggy would be going to their trainer for about a week while they were moving. Marina followed up a few weeks later. She received a reply from Portia that they "tried Iggy" and that he was "too much energy and time for them in their brand new home with so much going on in their lives." There was no mention of the cats. The email went on to say that Ellen's hairstylist and her family had met Iggy, fallen in love, and that Iggy had been re-homed.
Marina wrote back explaining that this was not acceptable and in violation of her agreement. She asked that Iggy be returned to the store in Pasadena the next day. She said that the family needed to fill out an application and go through the adoption process just like any other adopter. They refused to bring the dog back, and although they eventually filled out an application, they did not want to go through the process. The phone calls back-and-forth had become increasingly hostile, eventually leading to a call from Ellen's attorney. Marina felt compelled to go to the hairdresser's home to reclaim Iggy, at least for the time being.
When she arrived, Marina explained that she would need to take Iggy back until Mutts & Moms had an opportunity to review their application and discuss the adoption among their committee. It is important to understand that Marina was still willing to consider the adoption, and if everyone had been cooperative and non-confrontational , the outcome might have been different. Instead, the family called 911 saying that someone was there trying to steal their dog, and as if on cue, a TMZ camera crew appeared to capture the events on film. When the police arrived, they looked at the contract and determined that Marina had legal standing to take Iggy back. The next day, Ellen broke down on her show. The rest is history.
Media Distortions: It is amazing to me that people are so quick to believe everything they hear in the media (especially the tabloid media). Does it really surprise people that the media would get it wrong, or distort things for dramatic effect, or withhold the context that serves to explain what otherwise doesn't make sense?
It was reported that Ellen never filled out an adoption application, and that there was no home check.
THE REST OF THE STORY: A trusted friend who had adopted to Ellen in the past vouched for Ellen & Portia as being a good home. Since Ellen & Portia were in the process of moving, Marina decided to go ahead with the adoption and do the home check later when they had moved into the new house. Although she never took a full tour of the current house, she was there, and it was obvious that Ellen has a beautiful home and that Iggy would be living the life of Riley there.
It was reported that Mutts & Moms found the hairstylist' s home unsuitable because they have a rule that they do not adopt small dogs to families with children under 14.
THE REST OF THE STORY: Mutts & Moms never said the home was unsuitable. They said that the hairstylist needed to fill out an application and be evaluated like any other adopter. They are wary to adopt small dogs to families with young children, but were always willing to consider this family. The family did not want to bring the dog back, and they were not willing to accept any outcome other than their keeping Iggy.
It was reported that Mutts & Moms non-profit corporation is not in good standing, which among other things was being used as "proof" that Mutts & Moms was not a reputable organization.
THE REST OF THE STORY. Every year a California corporation must file a Statement of Information. It costs $25 to file. Marina for whatever reason failed to file it for 2007. It is no big deal. You just pay a fine and immediately the corporation is returned to good standing. I'm not a lawyer, but I find it hard to believe that this would negate a contract entered into during the corporation was not in good standing. The essence of a contract is a meeting of minds, which obviously occurred.
It was reported that Mutts & Moms transferred the dog to Ellen unaltered, in violation of State law.
THE REST OF THE STORY. The law provides an exception for animals unfit for sterilization due to age, illness or injury. In such cases (as was the case with Iggy), a rescue group can adopt the dog, subject to a spay/neuter deposit of not less than $40 and not more than $75, refundable upon proof of sterilization within 14 days following the day the dog first becomes fit for sterilization.
While many rescues will place animals under a spay/neuter agreement with a deposit, RHA-LA feels strongly that regardless of the legality, this practice is unacceptable. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should legal owner/guardianship of an animal occur prior to spay/neuter, and unaltered animals should NEVER be released to the public (other than to the organization' s trusted volunteers and fosters) until he/she is fixed. Marina told me that she has done this maybe 3 or 4 times out of the over 400 placements she has made. She says she has records of every adoption and that she can confirm that every animal she has adopted has been spayed/neutered. Nonetheless, I explained to her why RHA-LA discourages this practice, and she understands and agrees.
Learning from Iggy:
The Rescue & Humane Alliance-Los Angeles was founded to be a bridge. It is a bridge not only to connect rescue organizations to each other, but also a bridge between rescue organizations and other worlds outside of rescue --- the world of government, the world of business, and yes, even the world of celebrities.
We have access to a network of professionals, including attorneys, publicists, lobbyists, and people at all levels of the entertainment industry. As Members, you should always feel free to use us as a resource.
If there is a lesson in the aftermath of this Iggy incident, it is that no one who does responsible rescue should be alone. Mutts & Moms is not a member of RHA-LA, but even so, we reached out to Mutts & Moms and to the Ellen DeGeneres Show immediately. I truly believe we could have helped if we had been presented with all the facts in the first 24 hours following the original broadcast.
What we can do now: It is impossible to un-ring a bell. Marina never thought that her adoption procedures would be analyzed and discussed on CNN by people who know nothing about rescue. She is devastated that her many years of hard work in animal rescue have been erased, her compassion questioned, and her reputation irreparably damaged because she was inexperienced in dealing with celebrities and the media. On a larger scale, the way the information has been manipulated has led to backlash against rescue in general. We should take this opportunity to come together as a humane community, and resist the destructive forces polarizing us and weakening our ability to help animals in need. It is all too easy for members of the public, and even other rescuers, to sit in judgment from the comfort of their living rooms.
At this point, Ellen is the only one who can set this right. RHA-LA has learned that Ellen is planning to do a segment on her show about rescue. As you might imagine, the show has been inundated with ideas and appearance requests from local and national animal welfare organizations. They have chosen to work with Petfinder, as Ellen has an existing relationship with them. Our understanding is that the show will tape on Monday for air on Tuesday. We hope that the show will help people understand the challengesof rescuing animals, and the reasons for some of the processes used by rescuers to insure that animals are adopted into loving, permanent, responsible homes. We hope that Ellen will tell her audience that this was all a misunderstanding, and that it is a wonderful thing to rescue an animal and save a life. We hope she will challenge her viewers to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Please keep your eye on your inbox for further information about this broadcast.
That part is now out of our hands, so let's not waste any more time pointing fingers or assessing blame, regardless of where we stand. Our mission now is to continue to do good work, to support those who do good work, to reach out to our friends when we find ourselves in need, and to help our friends when they reach out to us.
Mutts & Moms is shut down at least temporarily. That means that there are animals in its care that Marina may need assistance placing. If any RHA-LA members are willing to help, please email me at rescuealliance@ earthlink. net and I will put you in touch with her. In addition, I will forward to her any emails of support which I'm sure she would appreciate. Please understand my reluctance to distribute her email address under these circumstances.
In summary, when worlds collide, RHA-LA is here to support you. This is our mission, and depending on the situation, there are a lot of ways we may be able to help.
For Iggy and all the animals,
Scott Sorrentino President / Co-Founder Rescue & Humane Alliance-Los Angeles
Just going on what I had seen earlier, I found the fault" to be with Ellen. A contract was signed (by her SO). Their decision to re-home that pup was clearly against the conditions of that contract. Period, end of discussion.
Had Ellen or better yet, the the one who had signed the contract made the effort to call the rescue and say he wasn't "working out", but we know of someone who fell in love with him and is interested in adopting him, things may have had a far different ending.
My pups were purchased at price far more than an adoption fee. However, their owners know that any "re-homing" would be directly to MY home. Period, end of discussion. Not only is it in the contract we both signed, it was clearly stated. No matter the age of the dog or the reason.
I'm pretty sure the contract and verbal reinforcement by the rescue would be something that is understandable by even a 10 year old. You keep the dog as part of your family for life or we get him back. Pretty simple concept.
***Edited By: pyrmom on 10/26/2007 1:04:23 PM*** Reason: *
"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful".
Nice post. It's good to hear both sides of the story.
Considering that M&M ran their operation out of a store (which I, personally, find inappropriate), I can see why the family did not want to return the dog during the "process." They probably figured it would be suffering in a cage, and other people would see it and buy it before they could get it back. Plus what's a Mom to do but dig in her heels, when her daughters love this dog? It's a hard situation.
The whole thing will blow over soon enough. The loss of one private rescue is no catastrophe. The M&M people can go back to volunteering at local shelters or start up another group. Since apparently it only takes $25 to incorporate a non-profit.
This was a situation that probably had to happen eventually, so that rescues could learn a valuable lesson: NEVER adopt to celebrities; especially anyone with a talk show!
I think that it is total BS that this rescue and the rescue woman have to deal with this. All because Ellen had to make a statment on her show when SHE and her SO screwed up. Ellen screwed up yet she's not the one paying for it. Now Petfinder has backed her up? Now I'm loosing faith in Petfinder. She can do all the rescuse show's she wants but I will never be watching her show again. She gave this rescue and that poor woman a bad name to the point where she had to temp close down her rescue. I think Ellen should donate some money to this woman and help her out.
Granted it's just "one" rescue but thats more than one dog that may loose it's life because this "one" rescue isn't around.
he is your friend, your partner,your defender,your dog. You are his life,his love,his leader. He will be yours,faithful and true,to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such d
I feel that both sides handled it very wrong, Ellen was in the wrong of course, but I really think the rescue could have done the adoption paperwork while the dog lived with the family, it seems to me that the real problem started when they went in and removed the dog. If they had seen proof that the dog was being mistreated I would understand, to take the dog out of a home while paperwork is being done is foolish IMO.
Would any of this stop me from adopting from M&M of course not, I dont see why they have to shut down, typical celebrity crap like this will blow over, IMO it is no reason to shut down the rescue.
Again, the controversy is not about whether or not M&M had a legal right to the dog. No one is arguing that. Ellen was wrong. It is about how they handled the situation and how they “enforced” the contract. You can’t just take matter in to your own hands, barge in to someone’s property and retrieve what you think is rightfully yours. OJ tried that and looks what happened to him. There are laws in this country and certain procedures that need to be followed to enforce contracts. Besides, the contract that is keep being brought up was actually between Ellen and M&M. Ellen violated the contract. Any legal disputes and rights they had were between those two parties. It had nothing to do with the hairdresser. As far as she was concerned, the dog was hers. She did not sign any contracts and she obtained the dog legally. The police had no right to intervene. It is not their job to enforce and settle contract dispute. That is what the courts and judges are for. There is also a living being involves that its needs and best interest had to be considered, and there was the high profile person with a nationwide audience that as they found out can make their life hell. All those things had to be considered before taking actions. Instead, they just reacted with out thinking.
They brought this mess on themselves. I guess Karma finally caught up with them and their actions, wouldn’t you say that wiley? Is it not how the cosmic justice system works? What you put out there will come back right at you?
If I seem to have a superiority complex, it is because you make it so easy.
You know, I have to admit that when this first came out I was really upset on how M and M handled the situation. I posted I thought BOTH sides made mistakes. When the story first broke everyone was reacting on emotions, many are doing the same now. Just read this thread to see that.
Wiley posted updated information, more facts, NOT EMOTIONS, but rather facts that are being shed on everything. I wish we all could look at this from both sides. If you try and step back and read what Wiley posted, in an unbiased, fair mannor, perhaps another side can be seen. This does not mean I do not still feel M and M could have perhaps handled it slightly differently but so many things have been brought out now, FACTS, NOT FICTION, not emotions, not made up garbage, but facts that also give an insight to another side, to a side that involved someone that spent a life trying to save dogs (no matter what we personally feel with our emotions towards this situation there is no doubt she did) and it's tragic the doors have been closed.
The Smoking Gun posted e-mail correspondences between M&M, Ellen/Portia, and Ellen's Hairdresser. If the description is true, the hairdresser could have provided a great home, and it was probably the rescue's insistence that the dog be returned during the adoption process that created the whole ordeal.
If you look at the post again, it states that the FAMILY called the police. The rescue didn't "barge in" with the police. Since the police were called, it was their obligation to see what was going on. Since the rescue had the legality of the contract, it was enforced. Maybe if the family had invited the rescue in to sit down to talk about the matter and present their case, things possibly could have been different. In some ways they were stuck in the middle and only saw it from the emotional aspect, as they weren't privy to the contract that Ellen and Portia had signed. But THEY called the police, thinking that they were within their rights - so they lost the dog. According to the email, the family was advised that the rescue does not adopt to people they haven't met, which seems reasonable and asked the family to come down (the whole family) and fill out the application and they could go over the contract the same way they did with Portia. They were willing to expedite the process for the family and advised them on what to do. Again, I think that is reasonable.
You are wrong about that. It is not the police’s job to enforce contracts. They can serve as mediators to settle disputes, as I believe they did in this case, but that is as far as they can go. Had she insisted, the cops would have had no choice but to remove M&M out of her property empty handed and let the courts decide the faith of the dog or settle it on their own.
Personally, I think she did the right thing giving it up. It would have been a losing expensive battle. All this headache over a dog she only had for 2 weeks is just not worth it when there are pounds full of dogs ready to be adopted. I just don’t like the way things went down.
If I seem to have a superiority complex, it is because you make it so easy.
Juno, I respectfully disagree on one point. Since the family called the police and they came out to see what the problem was, they could indeed enforce the contract (so to speak), since the family was trying to claim that M&M was trying to take a dog that they had no right to. M&M had a copy of the contract that proved their ownership. If the family had another contract and it showed otherwise, then the police would have probably told them to settle it in court. It was a mess and everyone involved could have handled things differently, but among other things there appeared to be a lot of egos in the mix.
All this proves that the media really blows things out of proportion and those who made the death threats should really think twice and get the truth. Not that I think death threats are a way to deal with things. And it also says something about those who listen and read the media because it seems we believe gossip much more than truth.
In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog. ~Edward Hoagland
when i heard about this nonsense it made me think about how i would have felt had someone adopted salty and gave her away to someone else instead of bringing her back to me.
i would have been really upset, mostly because i don't know the situation she was put into and whether it was a good one or not. if this had happened to me i would have gone to the home that salty was placed into and evaluated it. i am pretty positive, knowing her like i do, that i could have told if she was happy there or not. if she appeared to be happy and the home appeared to be a good one, and they loved her, there is no way in hell i would have ripped her out of it until paperwork had been processed.
the bottom line with any adoption is whats in the best interest of the animal, not someones ego. it is never in an animals best interest to be bounced around from home to home to home and thats what this stupid rescue woman did. it can do a lot of permanent psychological harm to an animal. its no wonder a lot of animals adopted from rescues suffer from some form of seperation anxiety.
at what point does an adopted animal become yours ? if i adopt an animal, love it, house it, feed it and vet it for x numbers of years and i at some point need to find it a new home, don't i have the right to say where MY dog goes ? why should it have to go back to the rescue from which it came ? wouldn't i be better suited to find a perfect match than some other person who has not lived with, nor knows my dogs personality ? if i couldnt find a suitable home for my pet than i may contact the rescue i adopted him/her from but that certainly would not be my first phone call. to me its completely absurd.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.