Pinups for Pups is completely serious about the campaign they have created to raise awareness about responsible pet ownership. The plan? To patch up the tension created by the recent Ellen DeGeneres vs. Mutts and Moms conflict.
In mid-October, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was confronted by the rescue group Mutts and Moms for giving her hairdresser a dog she had adopted with the group. By doing so, they claim, she violatd an agreement on the contract she had signed at the time of adoption saying she would be responsible for the animal.
After the confrotation with the group, DeGeneres said on her show that she had poured her heart (and $3000) into training Iggy, the pet in question. However, Iggy ended up with “too much energy” and was “too rambunctious.” So when her hairdresser, a mother of two little girls, asked for ownership of Iggy, DeGeneres handed over the pup thinking she would give Iggy a better home.
After two weeks, during which DeGeneres received updates and pictures “every single day… of how happy Iggy [was],” Mutts & Moms called DeGeneres to check on the puppy. Upon hearing DeGeneres’s confession, they set out for the hairdresser’s home and promptly removed the dog.
DeGeneres then had a tearful breakdown over the issue on her show, for which she received much public criticism. She claimed, in between sobs and sniffles, that she thought she did a good thing.
"I tried to find a loving home for the dog because I couldn’t keep it,” she said.
As part of her tearful plea for forgiveness, DeGeneres also asked for the group to give Iggy back to the family; the hairdresser’s daughters had become attached to the dog and wanted to care for it responsibly. However, Keith Fink, an attorney for Mutts and Moms, said that the rescue group gave the new family a chance to go through the adoption process, but they refused.
Like many others, Jake and Sondra Shannon were bothered by the conflict between the two parties. The California residents are founders of Pinups for Pups, a business that sells calendars to support animal rescue leagues and promote events related to the cause. After watching the dramatic show, they created a Can Ellen Save the Dogs? campaign to promote better pet adoption practices.
Throughout the campaign, participants are encouraged to send a letter, from the template available on the site or a personalized one, to DeGeneres. The letter would ask her to “keep positive while promoting responsible pet ownership and understanding the Animal Return Provision in her adoption contract,” according to the template on their site. The campaign is not about bashing either party, but rather, they say, about “burying the hatchet” and using the ordeal as a learning experience for all. Moreover, the campaign focuses on appreciating animal rescuers.
“They are heroes too, but seldom get recognition,” Sondra said. “Unfortunately, in this case they instead got threats of violence and smeared by overzealous fans of Ellen.”
Jake, who keeps up with internet marketing, noticed a few of his peers conducting a similar health and fitness challenge with Michael Moore. After purchasing a domain name, Jake and Sondra began spreading their cause via MySpace. Although the pair, who are parents to a 10-month-old and have three adopted dogs, wanted to buy more advertising. However, their budget was rather modest from producing Pinups for Pups calendars, so most marketing was done via word of mouth.
“We were shocked to hear of Mutts and Moms being vilified by some people for simply enforcing the contract that Ellen…signed. We do think Ellen has the power to transform a fiasco into a blessing primarily due to the bully pulpit she wields, a nationally broadcast television show,” Sondra said. “[You can help] by simply passing [the letter] along to every single person that you believe will care. After that, be kind to animals and try to help solve the problem of the millions of innocent animals that are abused or destroyed as a result of irresponsible breeding or ownership.”
The return clause in DeGeneres’ contract is fairly standard. Adopters use it to ensure that an animal is in a good home, since they are held accountable for the fates of the pets.
Since the nationwide campaign started in mid-November, Shannon has received over 25 letters. In addition, DeGeneres has featured other animal rescues on her show.
“[This] isn’t to say that Ellen didn’t have a good home… experienced rescuers are more likely to weed out bad homes just based on what they’ve seen before. To take it to its logical extreme, imagine if another celebrity couple like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt decided that they wanted to give away one of the children they adopted? They wouldn’t simply be able to give it to their hairdresser, you know? It’s about protecting an innocent life that may not be in control of its own fate,” said Shannon.