Let the non-buyer beware!

This story (which only received media attention because it involved Ellen DeGeneres) should serve as a remember that if you "adopt" what is called a "rescue" dog, it is not your dog:

The twisted dog tale began last month when DeGeneres and de Rossi adopted a cute, black Brussels Griffon mix terrier named Iggy. When Iggy wasn't able to get along with DeGeneres' cats, the couple gave the dog to DeGeneres' hairdresser.

That, Batkis pointed out, violated a written agreement de Rossi signed in which she agreed to return the dog to Mutts and Moms if the adoption didn't work out.

DeGeneres acknowledged she erred but said her hairdresser and her family shouldn't be punished.

"This is so insane," a calmer DeGeneres said on her talk show Wednesday. "It's just the dog needs to go to the family."

Batkis has refused to back down.

"If Ellen wants to place dogs and decide what's a good home, then she should start her own rescue group," she told "Inside Edition.""But I'm the one doing this and I know what I'm doing."

Meanwhile, the dispute has become a hot topic on news and talk shows.

"There's got to be some sort of rational compromise," ABC's Diane Sawyer said on "Good Morning America."

A deal is a deal, and if you sign a piece of paper which says the dog is not your property, that piece of paper is what will control, and the dog is not yours to give away.

People who don't like the consequences should simply buy a dog. I bought Coco, and she is mine. I would not part with her for any reason I can think of, but if something awful happened (say, I was dying or in some kind of dire straits) and I couldn't keep her, I could give her away or sell her, and then she would be owned by someone else.

Nothing wrong with that. Or is there? According to a new system of recently manufactured morality, the ownership of animals is immoral, and instead of owning them, humans should henceforth only be allowed to become "guardians." This is a radical view of animals, and I have criticized it many times. However, there is a growing "guardian" movement, working largely under the radar to get various governments to change legal language in the hope that eventually, animal ownership will be abolished. (Yes, they even call themselves "abolitionists.")

Laugh all you want, but these people are activists devoted to their cause -- which means that their tireless efforts never cease.

I am not saying that all animal rescue organizations subscribe to this radical abolitionist ideology, but unfortunately many of them do. Whether it's merely a coincidence (or part of a two-pronged attack), the legal push for guardianship is accompanied by the constant (albeit indirect) promotion of the new morality. At this point, most animal shelters and rescue workers don't directly declare themselves to be against pet ownership. But they are determined to stop the breeding of dogs (AB 1634 is clear evidence that this idea alone has become mainstream thinking), and additionally they are rapidly reaching the point of unanimous opposition to the sale of dogs.

From a typical animal rescue web site:

"The number one resolution next to spay neutering is to abolish pet stores."
Anyone remember the song "How much is that doggie in the window?"

As the new "morality" becomes ascendant, that song will become little more than what it is in this link I found -- embarrassing evidence of an immoral system which allows the buying and selling of animals. Right now, pet stores that dare to sell dogs in this area are being treated like abortion clinics, and subjected to angry, emotional demonstrations like these.

And it's not just that dogs should not be sold in pet stores. They should not be sold anywhere -- nor should pet stores be allowed to sell pets (which are called "companion animals").

The opposition to pet store dogs is said to be based on the fact that pet store dogs come from "puppy mills" where dogs are abused and bred like cattle. Now, most caring and compassionate people would oppose puppy mill cruelty. (I certainly do.) But animal cruelty is already illegal, and the term "puppy mill" has become a foot in the door for condeming nearly all sales of dogs. Here's the HSUS:

You gaze into the sad eyes of the puppy in the pet store window, and you want to "rescue" the lonely pooch...

You read the ad in the newspaper, and the couple seems so trustworthy, with their decades of experience breeding dogs...

You find a website with photos of green hills and beautiful puppies that insists the "little darlings" and "bundles of joy" will only be sold to "loving families"...

Beware! A cruel, mass dog-breeding facility could hide behind each of these scenarios. Most likely, you've heard about them. The Humane Society of the United States calls them puppy mills, and for good reason.

Like nearly every discussion on the subject, the site urges people who want dogs to visit their animal shelters:
Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop buying their dogs. We urge you to visit your local shelter, where you are likely to find dozens of healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs--including purebreds--just waiting for that special home--yours.
While there's certainly nothing wrong with adopting a dog from a shelter, in many instances, you will end up having to submit yourself to a thorough background check, pay steep adoption fees, and have the dog "fixed" by a veterinarian and microchipped. After all this time and trouble (and the expenditure of hundreds of dollars), you'll often end up with a dog you don't actually own, as they will make you sign an elaborate agreement stating the dog is not yours.

It must drive such people crazy that it is still legal in many areas to breed and sell dogs, because not only are they convinced it's immoral, they want to be in charge of all dogs.

Except that in the case of Ellen DeGeneres, they went a little too far, and it managed to get into the news. The initial outburst generated much sympathy for Ellen:

The calls got so bad that Marina Batkis said she had to close her business and stay home Wednesday, a day after DeGeneres broadcast a tearful, televised plea for the dog to be returned to her hairdresser and the woman's daughters.

"My life is being threatened. This is horrible," a tearful Batkis said outside her home.

Batkis and Vanessa Chekroun co-own Mutts and Moms, the nonprofit dog-rescue organization that gave DeGeneres and her partner, actress Portia de Rossi, the dog.

But the story is now receiving international attention, and the animal rescue outfit is taking a hard line approach:
any sympathy Mutts and Moms owners Marina Batkis and Vanessa Chekroun had for DeGeneres has evaporated. The pair have reportedly received death threats since the show screened and are now taking a stand, insisting through their lawyer, that will not be bullied and Iggy will not be returned.

The American media, whipped into a frenzy by DeGeneres's tears, are now beginning to swing in behind Batkis and Chekroun, reporting on their distress, DeGeneres's clear breach of a contract, and clear Mutts and Moms rules that say small dogs can not go to families with young children.

The LA Times and the AP have more on the story, but neither side appears to be backing down.

Common sense suggests to me that a deal is a deal.

And if you want your own dog, go buy one.

(Better hurry while it's still legal!)

MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, I read that when she got Socks, the White House cat, Hillary Clinton "lectured readers" that pets are an "adoption instead of an acquisition." Later, she dumped the cat on her secretary, who now has it.

It sounds as if Hillary thinks adopting an animal is less of a commitment than buying an animal.

I never really thought about it before, but I guess if it's not really yours, where's the commitment?

posted by Eric on 10.18.07 at 10:14 AM


So who does own the dogs that aren't owned by their caretakers?

The government?

Or the activist who shrieks the loudest?

tim maguire   ·  October 18, 2007 11:18 AM

I must respectfully disagree with your views on this.
What ever happened to "possession is 9/10ths of the law" Eric?
Contractual pieces of paper be damned. By mere fact that Ellen invested $3,000.00 in this mutt that nobody else wanted, and then found a good home for it (after she essentially bought it with the $3,000.00 investment) is proof enough for me of ownership.
Have you ever studied the laws relating to boundary disputes, especially in California?
Acquiessed (sp?) boundaries, adverse possession, etc? You surely agree that there are many gray areas in law.
I hope this doesn't have anything to do with Ellen's politics -- or her ex's.
Even Sean Hannity took her side today.

Anonymous   ·  October 18, 2007 10:43 PM

But the puppy-wuppys and kitty-wittys look so lonely and bored in those pet stores windows... Which is exactly the marketing strategy used to sucker in watery-eyed saps like me.

Scott   ·  October 18, 2007 11:48 PM

Just because Ellen says it was a good home doesn't mean the agency agreed.

One of the things Ellen was vetted for was "no children under 14". I don't know if that was in the signed agreement or not, but she did know that was one of the criteria.

Gary Carson   ·  October 21, 2007 11:19 AM

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