Ellen's "Faux Paw" unfairly depicts Mutts & Moms!

I find that I absolutely must speak out on behalf of Marina Baktis from Mutts and Moms in Pasadena given the shaft she is presently getting from the press as a result of Ellen Degeneres' "Faux Paw".

I am disgusted by the hate mail and posts I am reading everywhere that are attacking this woman, Marina Baktis of Mutts & Moms.org, for doing the right and responsible thing.

Marina Baktis is not cruel nor heartless, but instead one of the most responsible dog adoption agency owners I have ever dealt with. And, I have dealt with many- including shelters, humane societies and other dog adoption agencies.

Above: Marina, lovingly holding who is now my dog, Indie, at her store in Pasadena last May.

At Mutts and Moms.org they care so much about the placement of the dogs, and are so concerned about people who may simply 'give the dog away to god knows who' if they can't deal with it, that they make it very clear in their contract that the dog MUST be returned to them so they can be assured of placing it in the "right" great home. Ms. Baktis is extra stringent in finding the best homes for dogs because she loves them so very much.

Do you know how many people treat adopted dogs like crap??
Or fail to consider things in the environment that may be wrong for the dog like other pets or ruthless kids or the neighborhood or the hours kept by the owners, etc.?
Do you know how many people just give them away to others who say they can care for the dog, but really can't?
Why do you think we have so many dogs in shelters!?

Portia de Rossi clearly signed the contract -and no doubt had lengthy discussions with Marina, who, I know, from personal experience, makes it very clear that Mutts and Moms takes it upon themselves to be responsible for the dog's happiness if the adopter cannot keep the dog for whatever reason. And that's no easy feat. Marina puts the dog's needs FIRST over crying kids and weepy talk show hosts.

Marina Baktis didn't interview this 'hairdresser' or go see the home or the other dog that lives there to make sure Iggy would be safe and happy...therefore she cannot -in good conscience leave the dog there. Don't people understand that?

Sure, I love Ellen like the rest of America, but she's not trained to recognize the best home for a dog! She couldn't even keep Iggy herself! That says something right there.
Why didn't she (or Portia) just tell Marina that she may have found an appropriate family for the dog and let Mutts and Moms interview the family themselves?

I personally adopted my fabulous dog from Marina Baktis last May and I was so impressed by her deep concern and need to know all details before releasing the dog to me. She continued to e-mail me and stay in touch after the adoption to make sure Indie was (and is) happy.

Unfortunately, a few tears from Ellen and pics of sad kids' faces have turned the public against one of the kindest, most giving and responsible dog lovers in this country. After all, Marina devotes her life to finding homes for dogs. And good homes at that!

above: photo by Monika Hummer

Above: My happy dog Indie who I adopted from Mutts and Moms in May of 2007.
And who turns 1 year old today!!!!!

Happy Birthday Indie!

Addendum 10/19/07: Clearly this post, as well as the accompanying comments on here and on other blogs, have hit many nerves and upset many people. No, I am not aware of all of the details concerning this situation. Nor am I privy to the conversations that have gone on between the involved individuals. So, perhaps it was unwise of me to address this issue at all.

I have been called an apologist, a nazi and accused of personal attacks without rational substantiation. Clearly, not my intention. I merely put this post up initially to illustrate that I, personally, had a wonderful experience with Mutts and Moms who now has to close their doors on a benevolent and much-needed service.

I am sorry for all the parties involved in this. And sadly, there is no 'winner'.


Internet Esquire said...

Why did Mutts and Moms take Iggy back? The only reason offered was that Iggy's new family had two girls under the age of 14 in the household. That may be a valid concern sometimes, but it didn't seem to be a real issue in this particular case, and an objective observer would almost certainly conclude that Mutts and Moms did not have the dog's best interests at heart. For a longer tome on my views, please see my recent blog post.

Laura Sweet said...

Simply put, that is their policy- and for all the reasons I stated in my post. If the adopter can't take care of the dog for whatever reason, it goes back to Mutts & Moms. End of story.

Anonymous said...

I see that the page on petfinder.org has been temporarily disabled, and I was sorry to see that because I wanted an opportunity to let this kind-hearted lady know that I admire her devotion to the pets she rescues and so clearly cares for so much. When you adopt, generally the terms are clearly spelled out, and I feel that her terms speak to the genuine concern that she has for the dogs. The rules should apply whether you're just regular folks at home or some celebrity with a popular forum. I hope folks will give this hardworking, caring lady a break and let her do the job she clearly has a calling to do.

Allyson said...

I'm glad your dog is doing well and that you had a positive experience with Mutts & Moms.I too am appalled at all the ugly comments and threats Marina has received. There is no exscuse for violence. I strongly disagree however with how she has handled this entire situation. There were so many ways she could have avoided this. I do not know Marina personally. But she is not coming across as someone we should feel sorry for. She comes across as someone who is taking her anger and pride out on a little dog and innocent family. In her interview she states she will not give the dog back because of how she's been treated. Neither Ellen nor the family has treated Marina bad. It's not their fault some people have reacted badly. Marina acts like this is all about her. "She's" been hurt, "She's" suffering, It's all about Marina. What about Iggy? What about those little girls who love Iggy and lost her? She further looses credibility when she goes on and on about how poor she is, has no money and cannot pay the vet bill while wearing CHANEL glasses. Chanel is one of the most expensive brands you can buy. How poor can she be if she can afford to buy Chanel? Furthermore she is using this situation to be a stickler about her rules. She was willing to break them when she allowed Iggy to be adopted by Ellen. Ellen said on Ryan Seacrest that Marina never inspected her home, etc.... It seems Marina breaks the rules all the time. Why not this time? Ellen made a mistake. She has aplogized over and over. Has Marina never made a mistake? This is about doing the right thing! And the right thing is to return Iggy to the family that loves her.

Laura Sweet said...

I won't go point by point here but first off...can't slam Marina for Chanel glasses! That is not fair. You don't know if they're real or phony or if she got them on ebay!

Secondly, you should be careful about the "quotes" you here. The press distorts comments all the time and takes them out of context.

That family did not have Iggy long enough to truly LOVE her, so I won't acknowledge these girls' 'broken hearts'- as the press puts it. Plus, none of us know exactly why the dog was taken away- there could have been a million reasons. But I can assure you that Marina does what's BEST for the dog, not the family. That's her JOB.

Marina may not have visited Ellen's home and perhaps she should have. But, as a celebrity, I'm sure they weren't very welcoming about that.

The truth of the matter is, with cats that obviously don't like dogs, Ellen shouldn't have adopted a dog.

Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter is that Mutts and Moms handled this entire situation badly and you are blindly defending them. This kind of cruel snatch and grab of the dog from a child is enough to make everyone buy their dog from a pet store to prevent it from happening to them. There has never been any allegation that the family mistreated the dog, and YES, Marina said that she will NEVER let that family adopt this dog because of the way that SHE has been treated. And you have obviously not seen the video of the little girl sobbing or you would know that she was firmly attached to the dog. How long did it take you to become attached to YOUR dog? And how would you feel if the pound came to your house and snatched your dog away because Marina had violated a contract with them that you were unaware of(as Ellen did as the middleman here)? Just because you like the lady doesn't make her right. She reminds me of the wicked witch of the west that snatched Dorothy's dog away with a court order. Legally right doesn't always equal morally correct.

Laura Sweet said...

On the contrary, I am one of the few people who isn't "blindly" defending anyone in this since I have had PERSONAL experience dealing with them.

Many people, such as yourself, are making nasty remarks without full knowledge, without any intimate experience, without a legal degree or professional rescue experience and are basically destroying one of the best services (and desperately needed) in this country for placing dogs.

Loving a dog can only take a minute, but really loving a dog, with all the care, financial expense, training and responsibiltiy takes awhile. Of course if anyone "snatched' my dog, I'd be hysterical.

But then again, anyone who just 'gave' me a dog because they couldn't care for it would be suspect as far as their real knowledge of how to treat a dog.

ReapwhatUsow said...

Isn't finding a loving home what rescuing animals is all about? Since ellen donated $600 and paid $3,000 to have the dog fixed and trained, marina should've at least given the hairdresser the chance to prove that her home was a loving home. This whole situation could have been avoided had marina's inflated ego not gotten in the way. She went to the hairdressers home under false pretences. She made her bed with her actions, now, sadly she must lie in it. How dare she threaten Ellen with going to the media. Had she not done so, ellen may not have felt backed into a corner to defend herself. Marina cries that celebrities get preferential treatment. I have to ask, would she have acted so badly had the hairdresser NOT been a friend of a celebrity?? She wasnt thinking about that dog, she was thinking about herself and it back fired right back in her face. Marina has no one to blame but herself. She lost any chances of redeeming herself when she spitefully placed iggy in another home. I do believe she'll have to look over her shoulder from now on, I hope it was worth it for her. She created this drama and I guarantee this opportunist will sue.

Laura Sweet said...

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that PETA, the ASPCA and The Humane Society have all issued statements that do NOT defend Ellen's actions. While they (and myself) certainly recognize that Ellen had great intentions, they ALL say she misstepped and did not handle this correctly in ine way or another. And not one of these agencies finds fault with Marina Baktis or Mutts and Moms.

I have no bone (pardon the pun) to pick with Ellen or the now saddened family, but with the public who speaks ill of, and wants to defame Marina Baktis.

Regardless of what you think of her personally, she did not act out of anything other than the best interest of the dog and in following the contract signed by the adopters.

If this were a child and the newly adopted parents decided they couldn't handle it, you think it's okay for them to just give the baby to their hairdresser? Yeah, right.

By now Marina's address has been published and she had to close her doors on her business and generous and needed services.

Shame on you all. God Forbid you should ever have to uphold the law and rules of your own businesses.

Anonymous said...

laurasweet said: "That family did not have Iggy long enough to truly LOVE her, so I won't acknowledge these girls' 'broken hearts'- as the press puts it. Plus, none of us know exactly why the dog was taken away- there could have been a million reasons. But I can assure you that Marina does what's BEST for the dog, not the family. That's her JOB."
Question....How long did it take for YOU to fall in love with your dog?
laurasweet said: "Loving a dog can only take a minute, but really loving a dog, with all the care, financial expense, training and responsibiltiy takes awhile. Of course if anyone "snatched' my dog, I'd be hysterical."

Since no one knows the exact reason for the dog being taken away, why doesn't Marina issue a statement addressing that question? Yes, Ellen broke her contract by giving the dog to her hairdresser and family. That point has been made clear by all involved, but by not giving her reasoning, other than 'Ellen broke her contract', she is comming off as a vendictive person with a personal grudge against Ellen DeGeneres, and no concern for Iggy.

Also, isn't it against California law for a rescue organization to adopt an animal who has not been spayed/nutered BEFORE leaving their establishment?

Servomoteur said...

"Since no one knows the exact reason for the dog being taken away, why doesn't Marina issue a statement addressing that question?"

Aside from Marina not really owing the public an explanation, at this point I'd bet she's been advised by legal counsel to not say anything.

"Also, isn't it against California law for a rescue organization to adopt an animal who has not been spayed/nutered BEFORE leaving their establishment?"

California Food and Agricultural Code Section 30503 allows exceptions:

(a) (1) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b), no public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group shall sell or give away to a new owner any dog that has not been spayed or neutered.
(b) (1) If a veterinarian licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this state certifies that a dog is too sick or injured to be spayed or neutered, or that it would otherwise be detrimental to the health of the dog to be spayed or neutered, the adopter or purchaser shall pay the public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group a deposit of not less than forty dollars ($40), and not more than seventy-five dollars ($75).

I imagine a four-month-old puppy could easily fall under the "detrimental to the health of the dog" provision of subdivision b. A Google search reveals no standard age -- consensus seems to be between four and six months, though.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll point out the painfully obvious, which is: that contract that was signed isn't legally enforceable period. The reason? Pets are considered personal property and therefore can be sold (and it looks like Moms and Mutts isn't much different than most other pet stores and engages in the selling of "pets" under the guise of being an adoption service), traded, or even--god forbid--given away from one person to another...

As such, their contract can't be valid, nor should it be. Therefore, Moms and Mutts had no legal standing to remove Iggy from the hairdresser's home and, in point of fact, have committed a felony (theft of property valued at more than $500) and could be very likely prosecuted for their actions...

Oh, and don't say that in cases of abuses to animals the courts punish offenders. It's true this happens, but it's not a crime, just an offense of the law, a small but subtle important difference.

Zealots are dangerous people as they seldom see the big picture and often act capriciously and fail to use common sense, which is clearly lacking in this instance. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

I have to say after reading the articles and watching the video, I would never adopt from Mutts & Moms. I agree that Ellen didn't follow the correct steps when finding a good home for the dog; however, she has admitted she was wrong and apologized over and over. I too know Marina and have always liked her but this time she is WRONG! Her intentions were not well-being of the dog. She was angy and acting out of spite! I think Marina is going to lose her company and it's really sad. All they all had to do was talk this out.......

Anonymous said...

The dog was taken from the family for two reasons.

The contract was violated. Even in the remote area of PA I live in, the SPCA has the same contract.
You must notify them if you cannot take care of the adopted animal.

The second, the dog is blind on one side, which makes the dog a threat to young children that are not paying attention. Approaching a dog/puppy from a blind side can cause the animal to react and bite the person. I know in the PA, it only takes two bite reports to have a dog put down. This is what Mutts & Moms were trying to avoid, and why the dog was removed from the hairdresser's home. The dog is not suitable to be around children.
Obviously, Mutts and Moms care deeply about what happens to the animals in their care.
I applaud their decision, and support them 100 percent!
I am surprised how other agencies and such have reacted.
Here the rules and guidlines are extremely rigid. They have the right to check any time they want on the welfare of the animal adopted,and no, you are not allowed to give the animal away without notifying them, and this is the SPCA...
Too many are adopted and treated like crap because someone's favorite pair of shoes were chewed, or the dog urinated on the Christmas tree!
I am personally glad there are tigher restrictions on finding the right homes for sheltered and rescued animals.
Ellen Degeneres needed to return the dog, since it did not get along with her cat. So, it could be placed in a safe home where the potential for it to bite someone would be of little risk. The girls are too young to be around the dog at this point. Those of you that cannot understand this, I am sorry.
It was not an easy decision to make, but it was in the best interest of the animal, and that was the most important. Ellen Degeneres put the girls in this position, not the agency, when she chose to ignore her contract with Mutts and Moms.

Anonymous said...

I highly disapprove of Mutts and Moms, Marina Batkis and Vanessa Chekroun's actions. They acted on impulse with vengeance on the goodhearted-ness and best interest between a celebrity and deserving children; not with empathy or forethought. In researching the web, PETA, Humane Society, BBB, and SPCA historical information, these owners have not proven themselves respectful or caring. In fact they show spite, more than anything. Reviewing everything to date re. Marina. She still doesn't show any emotion for the human bond between animal and a well deserving family. A reasonable human would not act on impulse driven by a bogus contract but allowed time for review and reasses the situation. A responsible business owner would have responded by now to the media, attorneys, and press with a RESOLUTION and not hiding and REACTING with negativity. When one appears as a villain one would naturally want to disarm the situation; not in this case. Nothing on the news has touched me in such a way that i would be actually reaching out and being an activist.
This is Marina's quote: “Celebrities you know, they, they get preferential treatment. They have lots of money. They go into a restaurant they get a table.”
Look close at her glasses "Channel". I try not to be judgemental but something doesn't seem right.

Anonymous said...

For Christ's sake it's a dog not a nuclear detonation device, most balanced families are equipped to handle one. By all accounts this particular family was very loving.

Ms Baktis comes across in her TV interview as a psychopathic control freak who feels she has some 'special knowledge' that makes her able to discern who can and can't raise a dog. I doubt she has the psychological training to make the decisions, especially in light of her own mental instabilities.

She ought to win a prize for most incompetent skill at Public Relations. Give the dog back to the kids or she deserves the disgust the nation has heaped on her.

reapwhatusow said...

The best interests of the dog is NOT having him tossed around to 3 homes with in one month's time. And comparing a pet adoption to a human adoption is completely ridiculous and lacks merit! the FACT of the matter is, Marina went to the hairdresser's home UNDER THE FALSE PRETENSE OF SCREENING THE HOME. She showed up with the dog warden and the police and intentionally removed the dog out of the home. She LIED and she acted out of spite. How do you defend a liar?? Yes, Ellen violated the contract. she made a HUMAN error. Marina took hold of the situation as if ellen tossed the dog over to drug dealers at a crack house. She could've upheld the laws and rules of her business simply by putting the hairdresser through the screening process. makes sense, no? Laurasweet can defend Marina as she chooses, but what she fails to address is the FACT that Marina FIRST THREATENED ELLEN WITH GOING TO THE PRESS. And for what? My opinion still stands. MARINA'S SPITEFULNESS BROUGHT THIS HAVOC UPON HERSELF.

Laura Sweet said...

I was completely unaware that Marina threatened to go to the press first before Ellen came out with her public paroxism.

Like I said, I'm done talking about this, it's gotten out of hand and everyone involved has been hurt.

Anonymous said...

Duhh... The police and animal warren would not have accompanied Marina to the house if she was not in her legal right to do so. If she had let the family know ahead of time that she was coming to retrive the dog they would have hid it. All of this nonsense on TV and the internet when we have fellow americans dying in Iraq, just because a celebrity gets on TV throwing a temper tantrum because she didn't get her way.
Think about it, what kind of training did the dog recieve in two weeks that it cost up to $3000.00. I'm quiting my job and becoming an animal trainer. It has been reported that this is not the first time Ellen has tried to bring a dog into her house without success because of her cats. Duhh again. Ellen needs to grow up.

Anonymous said...

I spent a few years working in animal welfare, and I just got sick of all the zealotry and inability to see the big picture. There are a lot of freaks in the animal rescue business - people who empathize to the extreme with animals, but who don't really "get it" when it comes to dealing with their own species.

I'm glad that the rescue is getting negative publicity in this matter. They made their bed, now they can lie in it.

Anonymous said...

Marina Baktis has set animal rescue back severely. As in years. She handled this situation very poorly and I for one question her ethics in the way she treated this family.
I have been involved in animal rescue for YEARS. I don't think I have ever seen anything like this.
That being said, not only was her behavior detrimental to herself, and her "business" it was also damaging to other rescue groups.
There is absolutely no excuse for her behavior. I do not care whether you are trying to defend her from a friendly standpoint or not. The fact is that she turned canine rescue into something ugly and hurtful with her actions. I guarantee if it were you (and your family) on the receiving end of this behavior that you would feel much the same way as anybody else.
FYI the contract presented is in fact, a GRAY area of the law.
Any decent person involved with rescue would have handled this situation differently.
I know I would have.
But please, on behalf on decent rescue workers out there remember that we are not all like Marina Baktis. Some of us believe in doing what is right, and fair, and just, without harming innocent families and children.

C'mon people, it's only a dollar.