Monday, October 22, 2007

Ellen to Feature Pet Rescue on Monday October 22, 2007

[Added: Make that Tuesday October 23rd. The press release apparently confused the air date with the taping date.]

While following up on the controversy involving Ellen Degeneres and Mutts and Moms, I stumbled upon a press release at PR Web Owner Saved by Dog to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I immediately submitted the press release to Digg, but (much to my surprise) the Digg item has yet to attract any attention some 30 minutes later. Given the international obsession with Iggygate -- friends of mine from England have been asking me, "Who is this Degeneres bird, and what's all the flap about?" -- I thought this item would quickly be Dugg to death.

The press release narrrates Ellen's plan to feature Kimberly Sanchez in a segment on her show encouraging people to adopt animals from rescue groups. Just a few months ago Kimberly adopted a four-month-old Dutch Shepherd puppy, and the puppy saved Kimberly's life by reviving her when she collapsed from anemia. Kimberly's dog was rescued by filmmaker Judy Crozier who is working on a fictional feature entitled Free to a Good Home.

"I am glad that Kimberly will be on the show," said Judy. "It demonstrates a successful adoption. And a lot of rescue groups might not have adopted to Kimberly because of her young age. I saw she was responsible and this was a match for life."

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Linda Milazzo on the Ellen Degeneres/Mutts and Moms Controversy

While checking recent news reports on the Ellen Degeneres/Mutts and Moms controversy, I found a link to Linda Milazzo's Smirking Chimp Blog entitled Ellen DeGeneres' Misuse of Media and A Challenge To Right That Wrong. I highly recommend this post for the quality of its factual content, obtained from direct contact with many of the people involved in this controversy, but I respectfully disagree with many of the conclusions reached by Milazzo, and I hope to correct some of her mistaken, albeit good faith assertions. To wit:
"By giving 7 lb. Iggy to her hairdresser and not returning him to Mutts & Moms as stipulated, Ellen broke her contract.
Despite the three years I spent earning my law degree from an ABA approved law school, during which time I was a Member of Law Review, a Teacher's Assistant for Legal Writing, and a Certified Student Attorney prosecuting Civil Rights claims in federal court, I am not willing to offer an opinion as to whether Ellen broke her contract with Mutts and Moms, and I would caution anyone else from offering such an opinion. (For a longer tome on my views regarding the contract in question, please see my earlier blog post But Ellen Degeneres Signed a Contract! So What?)
"DeGeneres used the full extent of her celebrity to ignite a fan-based frenzy that resulted in death threats to the impoverished owners of Mutts & Moms."
Ellen did nothing of the sort. By virtue of the fact that TMZ already had the video of Mutts and Moms seizing Iggy from his new home, Ellen's celebrity was already part of the equation, and her subsequent appeal to the simple human decency of Mutts and Moms owners was made in good faith. In striking contrast, every action and statement of Mutts and Moms has been made in bad faith and with the sole intention of inflicting pain, humiliation, and scorn upon Ellen and the family that Ellen had placed Iggy with.
"Still the saddest repercussion of all is the potential for tens of thousands of dogs and cats to go unadopted, and to be euthanized, due to the anger engendered toward rescue groups as a result of this debacle."
When this story first broke, I had similar concerns, but one of the very good things to come out of this controversy has been an increased awareness of the worldwide problems of pet overpopulation and animal cruelty. Moreover, while Mutts and Moms may be experiencing a self-inflicted hardship, more level-headed pet rescues are having no trouble standing up to public scrutiny. One such rescue is Walkin' the Bark, an international dog rescue based in the San Francisco Bay Area which specializes in abuse cases from Taiwan, one of the worst places in the world to be if you're a dog.
"Can one honestly fault Mutts & Moms for enforcing a provision that protects rejected animals? If Mutts & Moms were to PUBLICLY disregard this requirement, it would pave the way for anyone to overrule this safeguard and recklessly dispose of an animal."
The classic "floodgates" argument fallacy, one that totally glosses over the heavy-handed and irresponsible actions of Mutts and Moms in seizing Iggy from a loving home. I've reviewed the contract that Mutts and Moms used to place Iggy with Ellen Degeneres, and *IF* there was a breach of that contract by Ellen, the appropriate remedy would be a lawsuit for monetary damages. There is absolutely nothing in that contract that gives Mutts and Moms the right to engage in a "self-help" remedy; if they wanted to exercise their "right to reclaim" Iggy, they would have to sue for specific performance and get a court order.
"Contrary to the negativity generated toward Mutts & Moms by the powerful DeGeneres camp and biased media pundits, the animal rescue experts with whom I've spoken were complimentary toward the organization."
Yes and no. Even those organizations most sympathetic to Mutts and Moms have praised them for their past efforts. Other than the fallacious "floodgates" argument made by Milazzo and others, I have yet to hear one valid reason for removing Iggy from what by all reports was a loving home. The only reason offered by Mutts and Moms for doing so was that they have a policy of not placing dogs in homes with children under the age of 14, and that excuse just doesn't pass muster.
"In the final analysis, this Ellen DeGeneres-Mutts & Moms-Iggy saga is a private issue between private individuals that landed on the national stage."
I wholeheartedly disagree. Mutts and Moms knew they were dealing with a celebrity when they placed Iggy with Ellen Degeneres, and their subsequent hostility towards Ellen when the media spotlight focused on them is absolutely bizarre. Had Iggy's placement with Ellen been more successful, I'm sure that Mutts and Moms would have been only too happy to bask in the media spotlight and take credit for the due diligence that they never performed with Ellen.
"[Ellen's] abused her power by publicly challenging those less powerful."
I wholeheartedly disagree. Ellen's public appeal to Mutts and Moms was an appeal to simple human decency. If I were Ellen, I would have hired a lawyer to represent the family from which Iggy was taken within an hour of his abduction, and -- based upon what I know of the law and the facts of this case -- Mutts and Moms would have found themselves in a world of legal hurt. I commend Ellen for her restraint, and for having the faith in human nature that I lost long ago.
"For those who believe I'm holding Ellen to an unfair standard by suggesting she shield her personal issues from her viewers, I'll answer with this. One of the greatest gifts I've been given in my lifetime is the opportunity to teach. . . . I neither share nor show my burdens. It is not my student's job to bear them. Nor is it Ellen's viewers' job to bear hers."
And yet here you are, citing your own restraint on personal issues as some sort of validation for your attempt to use your influence as a writer to publicly criticize Ellen. I fail to see the distinction. If you are so in favor of separating private issues from public discourse, why not send Ellen a private missive?

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