Wednesday, October 24, 2007


It began with the adoption of a 4 month old brussels griffon mixed puppy from the Mutts and Moms adoption agency. By October 16 2007, it became a national media story.

When a representitive from the adoption agency called Ellen DeGeneres to check on Iggy's welfare, she found out that the pup had been given to Ellen's hairdresser. That had been in violation of the contract that Portia de Rossi had signed when adopting the puppy, which stated that the dog had to be returned to the agency.

Iggy wasn't dumped on the street but had been given to a family with two young girls, ages 10 & 12 and had been taken care of very well. This had happened after Ellen had paid approximately $3,000 in vet bills, neutering and training of the pup and he still didn't get along well with her cats.

It seems that Ellen had been told to immediately return the dog to the agency or they would go and seize the dog. That is exactly what a representitive of Moms and Mutts did, with police presence, she removed the dog from the home and children because of a violation of the contract. Ellen pleaded for the return of Iggy to the children, the agency stated that they would make sure that the children didn't receive the dog and the situation spun out of control.

Ellen was visably upset about the events, the owner of Moms and Mutts was as well. Marina Batkis, a co-owner of the rescue group, had stated that they "may" have considered the new placement if Ellen had asked them to do so before putting the puppy there. I think that is a very large "maybe" on their part, since they state the agency has a rule barring placement of small dogs with families with children under the age of 14.

Iggy it is now reported, has been placed with another family, which is rather nice that the agency could rush him out the door that quickly during this dispute. It has also been reported that Iggy would not be returned to Ellen because her name had not been added to the microchip he has. That seems a bit of a double standard, the agency states they have a contract and follow it to the letter but they use a technocality to claim Ellen can't prove the puppy is hers?

My final thoughts......... if this agency has a policy of not adopting small dogs into families with children and they evidently monitor their placements militantly...... what happens when a couple adopts a small dog and two years later, has a baby? Does Moms and Mutts point to their policy in the contract and have police stand by as they yank the dog out of the home?

Of note:

Ellen and Portia may well have broken the contract that Portia signed with Mutts and Moms, a contract that it seems now, that many pet adoption agencies have, Marina Batkis's sobbing on television has done little for me to believe that she had Iggy's best interests at heart. She publically stated that there was no way that she would have placed Iggy back with Cheryl Mark's family because of the publicity and the fact that there were "young" children in the home. That can be shown by how fast Mutts and Moms were to place Iggy with another family as soon as they had him back in their grasp.

What has been revealed though from "Iggy-gate" is that there are numerous pet adoption agencies out there, some with little more that the local governement's approval to operate because their facilities meet certain standards. Those standards though often do not include how well trained they are in placing animals and most solicate donations for their "good" works.

The "Smoking Gun" posted several of the emails exchanged between both parties and while some may point to their relevance, I found little in them that excited me........ Batkis evidently felt that not hearing an update for more than 30 days on the placement of one of their pups was excessive and I do wonder........ does anyone who adopts a pet from Mutts and Moms have to send an update every two weeks or so for them to feel confident of the care their former charge is getting?

For a look at those emails, go here.

Update: November 13

"Iggy's doing famously, very well and in a loving home," stated Keith Fink.

It seems that Iggy is destined for some sort of fame at the moment, he is now being paraded on television to prove what a good job Moms and Mutts has done in placing Iggy after the tears and hate of last month. I had no doubt that they would find yet another family to care for the now 5 month-old pup and one that would allow them to exploit him as well.

What isn't being addressed though is the policy that they have, one which many agencies it has been revealed has and specifically, their policy of not placing a dog in a house with small children. That alone would have most likely kept the agency from allowing Iggy to stay with Ellen's friends, especially after it was publically stated that the would be no way that they would get the pup back.

I personally feel that the family who now has Iggy, who is doing famously and probably with the help of the couple thousand Ellen spent on training him, should be living quietly at home.... not paraded on "stage" by Fink, the lawyer for the agency.

1 comment:

Internet Esquire said...

Just to clarify, Marina Baktis of Mutts and Moms showed up at Iggy's new home under the pretense of doing a home inspection after the new family had reluctantly filled out an adoption application. After Marina arrived at the premises, she grabbed Iggy and wouldn't let him go, thereby prompting the new owners to call the police.

I might add that I've read through the adoption agreement used by Mutts and Moms in placing Iggy, and there was nothing in there that would give them the right to take Iggy without a court order. Even the police who were involved in the standoff now admit that they probably made a mistake in letting Marina leave with Iggy.

There's also a certain amount of confusion about whether Mutts and Moms would have made an exception and let Iggy be reunited with his new family. Initial reports indicated that the reason Mutts and Moms seized Iggy was because they did not allow dogs to be placed in a house with children under the age of 14. However, more recent and reliable reports indicate that Mutts and Moms' reasoning was even more inflexible, and that the sole reason for removing Iggy was uncomprising bureaucratic thinking.

For more details about what went wrong and how it could have been prevented, see the recap provided by Scott Sorrentino, President / Co-Founder, Rescue & Humane Alliance-Los Angeles.