Agency Wants to Keep DeGeneres' Dog
By BETH HARRIS
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Ellen DeGeneres' doggy drama intensified Tuesday when the agency that took the talk show host's adopted dog back said they were keeping it.
The dog adopted by DeGeneres and later given to her hairstylist's family in violation of an animal rescue agency's rules will not be going back to the family, a spokesman said, amid threats of violence against the agency.
DeGeneres made a tearful plea on her talk show that aired Tuesday for the owners of Mutts and Moms to give Iggy, a Brussels Griffon mix terrier, back to her hairstylist's family.
The dog was removed from the hairstylist's home Sunday. The owners of Mutts and Moms claimed that DeGeneres violated the adoption agreement by not informing them that she was giving the dog away.
Mutts and Moms owners Marina Batkis and Vanessa Chekroun were in possession of the dog and will not be giving it back, attorney Keith A. Fink told The Associated Press.
"She (Marina) is not going to give them the dog," said Fink, who is not legally representing the owners but is authorized to speak on their behalf.
"She doesn't think this is the type of family that should have the dog. She is adamant that she is not going to be bullied around by the Ellen DeGenereses of the world ... They are using their power, position and wealth to try to get what it is they want."
DeGeneres' attorney, Kevin Yorn, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Fink said DeGeneres' partner, actress Portia de Rossi, signed the agreement. DeGeneres originally said on her show that she (DeGeneres) had signed it.
DeGeneres' publicist Kelly Bush confirmed De Rossi signed the agreement, although DeGeneres' name also was listed.
"She (Ellen) was wrong by not reading the agreement," Bush told the AP in a phone interview. "She thought she was doing a good thing. She's notorious for rescuing animals and finding them good homes. She found the dog a wonderful, wonderful home."
Fink asserted that DeGeneres and De Rossi breached the agreement.
"If you adopt a dog and you no longer want the dog, you can't unilaterally decide who you want to give the dog to," he said. "She's trying to tell a story to make herself look good."
As a result of the ensuing publicity, Fink said Batkis and Chekroun had received voice- and e-mail threats of death and arson, and their Paws Boutique store in Pasadena was besieged by media Tuesday, disrupting business. The women handle the volunteer, nonprofit Mutts and Moms rescue agency out of the store.
"It's very upsetting to hear that someone is getting those kind of calls," Bush said. "Ellen just wants the dog reunited with the family."
DeGeneres had said her hairdresser's daughters, ages 11 and 12, had bonded with Iggy and were heartbroken when the dog was taken away.
Fink said Moms and Mutts has a rule that families with children under 14 are not allowed to adopt small dogs.
"It's for the protection of the dog," he said.
DeGeneres said on her Tuesday show that she spent $3,000 having the dog neutered and trained to be with her cats, but Iggy did not mix well with the cats so she gave him away.
"She got rid of the dog not because it didn't get along with the cats," Fink said. "She didn't like the dog."
Not true, according to Bush.
"She loved the dog," the publicist said.
Four-month-old Iggy was trained by Zack Grey at his UrbanTales pet store in Los Angeles.
"Ellen and Portia followed the process every single day," he said. "It just didn't work. It had nothing to do with not loving the puppy."