17 October 2007

Dog Repossesed

My law practice includes both secured transactions (i.e. obligations secured by collateral), and dog law (I've handled a surprising number of dog cases for a cat person). So this high profile dog repossession case caught my eye.

[Ellen] DeGeneres explained on her show that the Brussels Griffon terrier mix didn't get along with her cats, so she gave it to her hairstylist's family. The owners of Mutts and Moms claimed that DeGeneres violated the adoption agreement by not informing them that she was giving the dog away and removed Iggy from the hairstylist's home Sunday. . . .

[Rescue agency operator Marina] Batkis rejected DeGeneres' plea to give the dog back to her hairstylist's family.

"She (Batkis) doesn't think this is the type of family that should have the dog," said Fink, who is not legally representing the owners but is authorized to speak for them. . . . DeGeneres had said her hairdresser's daughters, ages 11 and 12, had bonded with Iggy and were heartbroken when the dog was taken away. [Co-agency operator] Fink said Moms and Mutts has a rule that families with children under 14 are not allowed to adopt small dogs.

"It's for the protection of the dog," he said.

I've actually had a dog repossession case myself once, although that involved a "dog share" agreement. In a dog share, a dog breeder retains stud rights in a pedigreed prize dog, while another family gets the pet rights in the dog. One of the parties breached their side of the deal, so the other sought to repossess it. In those cases, the potential for unauthorized self-help is particularly great. Neuter the dog and the breeding rights become worthless (and for pedigreed dogs of this caliber, most the value is in the breeding rights). Furthermore, there is room for retalitiation in the forum of the pedigree registries, as well as in the courts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a family that always had a dog, and taught me to love and care for animals. Anyone who loves animals, as Ellen does, can see where her heart is, and that she believed she was acting in Iggy's best interest.

Here is what I posted on Ellen's website:

Ellen, I realize that technically you broke the rules, but let's remember that the rules were created to protect the best interests of pets who are at the mercy of humans. So what is really important here is your intention, and clearly your intention was and is to act in the best interest of Iggy.

If the shelter were also acting in Iggy's best interest, they would see that you did what they would have had to do anyway, if you had returned Iggy to them. They would have had to find Iggy another loving home.

If they would open their eyes to the bigger picture here, they would see that what you did was for the best, even if it violated the contract. It is obvious that they are more concerned with contracts and rules than what is in this pet's best interest, and that is sad.

Perhaps at one time their primary concern was for the animals in their care, but now they are focused on being right and making you wrong, and ignoring what is best for Iggy. What a shame!

If I lived in your area I would organize a group of people to peacefully picket their shelter (I understand it is Mutts and Moms in Pasadena) until they come to their senses and return Iggy to the loving home you found. They really should be ashamed of themselves; they are giving all shelters a bad name.