I have completely lost faith in the idea that humanity will not eventually consume itself due to a moronic adherence to bureaucracy coupled with an overwhelming lack of common sense or restraint. And I blame this lack of faith on Ellen Degeneres.
By now you’ve all heard the story. She adopted a dog from some animal shelter, took it home where it failed to play nicely with her cats (despite apparent training), and eventually gave it to a friend with a couple of small daughters. Some time later, the animal shelter, upon hearing this, went to the house with the two young girls and reclaimed the dog, citing that Degeneres violated her adoption contract by not notifying them when she gave the dog away. The little girls cried, Ellen went on national TV and did the same, some of her fans sent death threats to the animal shelter, and within 48 hours the entire sordid saga had become “news”.
Four things about this story trouble me deeply (five if you count the amount of time and energy I’ve wasted contemplating and now blogging about it).
1) Degeneres not being smart enough to read the fuckin’ contract she signed when she adopted the dog.
2) The fact that the shelter just went and yanked the dog away from what was by all accounts a loving environment merely because someone didn’t follow protocol.
3) That Degeneres abused her fame by using her TV show as a platform to throw the agency under a bus, leading to ill-informed idiots like me to make snap judgments without having all the facts.
4) The complete tools who sent DEATH THREATS to an ANIMAL SHELTER because they “made my favorite TV host cry”.
Yup. We’re heading in the shitter, folks.
Look, on the one hand I can sympathize with each party here (well, not the death threat people… they’re just stupid). Maybe reading every little nuance of the adoption contract wasn’t something a lot of people do, since the way contracts read in this day and age you can’t understand the point of half of it anyway. But once she was INFORMED that she was wrong in how she handled it, she should have taken on the responsibility of solving the problem without playing on the sympathy of a national TV audience. I don’t doubt that she was truly bothered by the way things went down, but reasonable or not, she WAS in the wrong. Own up to your mistake and fix it. Don’t cry about it just because you happen to have a platform where you can get away with airing your side of the story without being rebutted.
As for the agency, I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they didn’t just knock on the door of this unsuspecting family unannounced, rip the puppy from a crying girl’s arms, and march off like Stormtroopers. But then again, I work in this country, and I’ve experienced first-hand how completely CLUELESS a lot of corporations and organizations conduct business, so I can’t rule the idea out that they were in fact totally soulless in their operation. At the very least they should have realized they were dealing with a celebrity with GOBS of money and handled the situation better. They probably could have weaseled a nice donation out of the deal without all the negative press if they’d just shown a little common sense and said, “you know what, the dog’s not in danger, this is probably for the best”.
The entire event is best described as a “misunderstanding”. Yes, some rules were broken, but the intent on both sides was to give a little dog a nice and loving home. This isn’t one of those issues were people are going to be divided because they can’t agree on what the best end-place for the dog is, like some twisted divorce settlement. It’s a simple case of the bigger dick theory at work, where everybody’s clinging to their little patch of power because to give it up and admit defeat isn’t manly, and despite what the tears may lead you to believe, everybody involved wants to feel manly. Sadly, it’s the wrong kind of manly. The money-grubbing, power-hungry, “I’m the boss” kind of manly that leads to things like slavery, rape, and oh, I dunno… WAR! It’s not the good kind of manly that means accepting blame, standing up for what is right (as opposed to “what you want”) and a willingness to settle things calmly and rationally. My dad may not have taught me much, but he at least taught me that.
In the end, I just feel bad for the dog.