Sunday, October 21, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Have our Ethics gone to the Dogs?

I really didn't want to comment on the Ellen Degeneres "Doggygate" drama, but I just can't keep my mouth shut any longer (which I suppose is actually not such a surprise to most of you).Before I rant, I want to make clear that I am an animal lover: I own two Bengal cats and a potbelly pig (and if you want to see Gwendolyn, my sixteen-year-old hog, you can go to MySpace and check out the video!). I have owned many pets in my youth and during my children's upbringing including a dozen cats, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, rats, birds, frogs, toads, salamanders, and many a lizard (my favorite being iguanas). So, I love animals and I can say, I have never abandoned a pet (which is why I still have a 250 pound pig on my property).

So, I feel for Ellen, sort of. It seems she had concern for the animal she took in and tried to care for it (well, at least for a few days before she gave up). Then, she found another home she thought was good for the dog. None of this makes her a rotten person.

But, I have to say, I think Ellen is a bit ethically challenged. Breaking her contract with the pet rescue agency, Mutts and Moms, and then trying to blackmail them by going on air with her grievance to millions of people and putting the agency in a horrible position, is simply wrong. It would have been bad enough to do such a thing if the agency was a fault, but to destroy the group when they were within their legal rights, is unpardonable.

Ellen cannot be so naive she didn't know what she was doing and neither can her hairdresser pretend he had no knowledge of the contractual issues unless Ellen lied to him. Most people who have pets and adopt them through rescue organizations know how very serious these rescue folks are about placing the animals in their care. Certainly, Ellen would be familiar with their attitudes and methods. She clearly knew that Mutts and Moms would feel exceptionally responsible for what happened to a pet they placed in a home. This is why they have the return clause. If they didn't have a problem with someone handing off a pet they no longer wanted to some other person, they wouldn't bother with home placement to begin with. They would simply stand on the sidewalk with a box labeled "Free Puppies."

Ellen knew that when she decided she didn't want Iggy in her home, she was to call the agency and they would find another home for the dog. She knew they were not going to euthanize the puppy. But, instead on honoring the agreement and the mission of the rescue organizations workers, she gave the dog away to a home she personally felt was okay for the dog. If the dog got overly excited in that new home and bit the children, the dog would have been removed by authorities and put down. If the family decided the dog wasn't working out, just like Ellen, they could also just give the dog away, or worse, drop it at the pound. This is what Mutts and Moms was trying to prevent by the return clause. They were trying to protect the puppy and make sure it ended up in a safe and permanent home. This is their job.

Ellen needs to go back on air and admit she was hands down wrong. She needs to admit Mutts and Moms were simply doing their job. She needs to tell everyone to back off and she should help Mutts and Moms get back on their feet financially with a large donation to make up for all the damage she has done to them.

There is nothing wrong with using the media if you are bringing attention to illegal behavior or serious moral or ethical wrongs. But, to use one's clout to take down an innocent David when you are a Goliath, when you are feeling bad about the mistake YOU made, is pretty inhumane and awfully darn selfish.

Come one, Ellen, step up to the plate. We all have made mistakes in the heat of emotion, but this doesn't mean we should run away after we realize we screwed up. Set an example and do the right thing. Exonerate Mutts and Moms.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

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