Death Threats Won't Sway Rescue Group to Return Dog Ellen DeGeneres Gave Away

Published October 17, 2007

| FoxNews.com

The owners of the doggy rescue agency that snatched back the pup that Ellen DeGeneres gave away say they are not going to bow to death threats from fans and pressure from the talk show host and they will not return the dog to DeGeneres' hairdresser.

"It's never gonna happen," attorney Keith A. Fink, who is representing the owners of the Mutts and Moms agency, told FOXNews.com. "There is more of a chance that the Yankees are going to win the World Series this year."

Mutts and Moms dismissed DeGeneres' tearful plea on her talk show Tuesday, maintaining that DeGeneres violated her contract by not informing them that she was giving away the dog, a Brussels Griffon terrier mix named Iggy.

Click here to read Ellen's blog and her explanation of the dog controversy.

"They are not going to be bullied by the Ellen DeGeneres camp," Fink said. "It's Hollywood culture — she thinks she's above the contract and the law."

Meanwhile, TMZ.com reported Wednesday that the owners of the pet adoption agency have filed a police report about the death threats they've been getting.

DeGeneres explained on her show that Iggy didn't get along with her cats, so she gave it to her hairstylist, who has two daughters, ages 11 and 12.

Fink told FOXNews.com that Mutts and Moms has a rule that families with children under 14 are not allowed to adopt small dogs — but they might have made an exception had DeGeneres gone through the proper channels.

"If she would have told the agency 'I have a great friend, she's seen the dog and loves it, can you consider her?' I know my clients would have."

Marina Batkis and the other owner of Mutts and Moms, Vanessa Chekroun, removed Iggy from the hairstylist's home Sunday.

As a result of the publicity, Batkis and Chekroun received voice mail and e-mail threats of death and arson and were besieged by the media, disrupting business at Paws Boutique store in Pasadena, Calif., where they handle the volunteer, nonprofit rescue agency, Fink said.

"It's very upsetting to hear that someone is getting those kind of calls," DeGeneres' publicist Kelly Bush said. "Ellen just wants the dog reunited with the family."

Fink told FOXNews.com that Bush told his clients a legal case would be filed and the media would be contacted, implying a desire to let the controversy play out in the public eye.

On her talk show recorded Tuesday for airing on Wednesday, a serious DeGeneres reiterated to her audience that "the dog needs to go to the family."

It "just needs to be in a good home," she continued, according to a transcript given to The Associated Press. "All that you're supposed to do is put a dog in a loving home."

DeGeneres said her hairdresser's daughters had bonded with Iggy and were heartbroken when the dog was taken away.

The ASPCA weighed in on the debate, siding with DeGeneres while saying it understood Mutts and Moms' point of view.

"We would encourage Mutts & Moms to revisit their approach to this situation, and look forward to a positive outcome that reinforces the importance of pets in our society and the human-animal bond," American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals CEO Ed Sayres said in a statement.

The ASPCA applauded DeGeneres' commitment to animals and said that it probably would have approved the owner switch, even if it had violated the same sort of agreement — which all animal shelters have.

"We have the utmost respect for her actions in trying to provide loving homes for animals in need — she sets a great example for not just other celebrities, but the entire American public," Sayres said.

"Had a similar situation been encountered with an ASPCA adopter and had the new home met our adoption criteria, in all likelihood we would have encouraged the new home environment for the animal."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/10/17/death-threats-wont-sway-rescue-group-to-return-dog-ellen-degeneres-gave-away