Published October 18, 2007
LOS ANGELES – Amid reports that the dog has been given to a third family, Ellen DeGeneres said she's done talking about her canine dilemma and pleaded for calm, saying the controversy surrounding an adopted pup has "gotten out of hand."
During a Wednesday taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," to be aired Thursday, DeGeneres told viewers she wouldn't speak again until the dog, Iggy, is returned to DeGeneres' hairdresser and the woman's young daughters.
The dispute erupted last month when DeGeneres and her partner adopted Iggy, a black Brussels Griffon mix terrier. When Iggy wasn't able to get along with DeGeneres' cats, the couple gave the dog to DeGeneres' hairdresser.
Mutts and Moms, the nonprofit dog-rescue organization that originally gave DeGeneres the dog, later took it back, saying the talk show host had violated the adoption agreement by not informing them that she was giving the dog away. That set off a firestorm of nasty e-mails and threats directed at the agency after DeGeneres shared the blow by blow with viewers on her show this week.
"Let me just say this, it's gotten out of hand," DeGeneres said on the segment to air Thursday. "I want nothing, nothing more than that dog returned to that family. But you don't resort to violence. So anybody out there, please stop that. Please don't threaten or do whatever."
The angry calls got so bad that Marina Batkis, co-owner of the dog rescue organization, 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.
DeGeneres has acknowledged she erred but said her hairdresser and her family shouldn't be punished. 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."
DeGeneres said several agencies had offered to provide the family another dog, even one that looked like Iggy.
"And unfortunately, Ruby, the little girl, doesn't want another dog, she wants Iggy," said DeGeneres on the show to air Thursday. "It's not a toy that's broken that you can replace. It's a dog."
On Wednesday, Keith A. Fink, a lawyer for Mutts and Moms, told FOXNews.com that the dog will not be returned to DeGeneres' hairdresser.
"It's never gonna happen," Fink told FOXNews.com. "There is more of a chance that the Yankees are going to win the World Series this year.
"They are not going to be bullied by the Ellen DeGeneres camp," he added. "It's Hollywood culture — she thinks she's above the contract and the law."
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."
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.