I’m not going to comment much on Ellen Degeneres’ on air meltdown. I really like and admire her, but I did find the overwrought confession a tad unprofessional.
I consider myself a decent pet owner. Every dog and cat I have was adopted from a shelter, I spay and neuter them, and I assume they are healthy enough, they all look incredibly fit, and they all seem to be happy. I’m not particularly good about check-ups, there is only so much money to spend on pets, and so unless they exhibit signs of distress, we don’t go to the vet. I would have no trouble putting down an animal if I received an expensive estimate to heal them from something. I have had to put dangerous dogs down in the past, and though I hated to do it, I slept fine at night.
I imagine that some animal rights activists would consider me a bad pet owner. I’m cool with that. But this situation with Ellen Degeneres struck me as a monumentally stupid decision on the part of the shelter. If you haven’t heard, (it was actually covered on at least two major networks, if you can believe it) Ms. Degeneres adopted a dog from a shelter. I can only assume that she went through the steps required, (like I did) like a home inspection and the ridiculous paperwork. Somewhere in her “contract” with this shelter, she agreed to “not give the dog away.” After a period of time, and thousands of dollars spent trying to acclimate the animal into her home, she finally did give it to her hairdresser for her daughter.
The shelter has threatened to sue for “breach of contract.” They went to the hairdresser’s home, and confiscated the dog. The daughter of the hairdresser was rightfully distraught. Wait, that bears repeating: They confiscated the dog.
I understand that the shelter would be concerned about the new home, but why couldn’t they just interview the new owners and inspect the home while they were there? I bet Ms. Degeneres would have ponied up the bucks to pay for the expenses. I would relish the fight with a shelter that tried to dictate what I do with an animal once I have agreed to adopt it. The number of animals euthanized every year in virtually every county is staggering. How many people are now thinking twice before subjecting themselves to that kind of scrutiny?
Personally, I’d like to see a refundable fee required, say, 100 bucks. I’m sure people looking for an animal to intentionally mistreat won’t be inclined to spend 100 bucks to do so. So, 100 dollars is mailed back to you once you’ve had the animal for a year. I know I had to leave a deposit until I proved that I spayed or neutered my new adoptee. That seemed reasonable to me. I think the 100 dollar fee will dissuade those that probably don’t have the financial ability to care for a pet.
But, at the end of the day, I’d rather take a chance by getting some of these animals (particularly cats) into homes even if it is a roll of the dice. We’re going to lose a few to be sure. Is that more tragic than herding them into a tank and then sucking the life out of them? Every shelter I know is filled to the brim with adoptable animals. They can serve many useful purposes for many different people. I actually think every domesticated animal should earn it’s keep. My dogs watch the property, my cats keep rodents at bay, even the ridiculously high strung Pomeranian alerts us to people at the door. Even companionship is serving an important need. But I think its ridiculous to treat abandoned animals on a par with say…abandoned children. This shelter made a bad decision, and I think they have cost some in their charge a chance to be placed in loving homes.