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Ellen's Rescue Agency Dogged by Death Threats

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Author Topic: Ellen's Rescue Agency Dogged by Death Threats  (Read 19 times)
Nicole Jimmelson
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« on: October 17, 2007, 08:29:49 pm »

Ellen's Rescue Agency Dogged by Death Threats
by Sarah Hall
Wed, 17 Oct 2007 12:37:26 PM PDT
Ellen DeGeneres' dogfight continues to intensify.

Marina Baktis, who runs the nonprofit rescue agency Mutts and Moms with business partner Vanessa Chekroun, filed a police report Tuesday night, after receiving death threats in the wake of DeGeneres' tearful on-air plea for the return of her adopted pooch to her hairdresser's family.

The Pasadena Police Department said it was investigating the source of "several threats [made to Baktis'] cell phone and work phone from several angry persons who threatened her life and her property."

"This is horrible. I rescue dogs. I can't believe this," Baktis told Access Hollywood.

"I haven't eaten, I'm sick and I've had heart palpitations."

Mutts and Moms has also been targeted by an Internet-powered call for a boycott, launched by dog-loving DeGeneres fans via Craigslist.

Batkis said DeGeneres' A-list status does not make her exempt from the agency's rules.

"Celebrities, you know, they get preferential treatment. They have lots of money. They go into a restaurant, they get a table. And so you know, this contract was breached. It was breached. So, people need to understand when you enter a binding legal agreement that you can't just go, 'And here you go, I don't want you,' " Batkis told Access Hollywood.

In an exclusive phone conversation with E! News' Ryan Seacrest Wednesday, DeGeneres reiterated her dismay over the dog being taken away and denied she had been deliberately trying to disregard the agency's policies, saying, "The whole situation is surreal."  (Get the full audio of Ryan and Ellen.)

"I will say this: We never filled out an application. We never had a home evaluation," she told Seacrest, indicating the agency was somewhat unpredictable about adhering to its own rules.

Her celebrity status, she said, had nothing to do with it.

"I didn't say you can't come to my home, I didn't say I won't fill out a form. She didn't ask me to," DeGeneres said.

"We're not trying to be anything other than a regular person trying to adopt a dog."

DeGeneres first took to the airwaves sobbing Tuesday, as she recounted the tale of her four-month-old adopted Brussels Griffon mix, Iggy, whom she passed off to her hairdresser after he wasn't getting along with her cats.

Upon learning DeGeneres had relocated the pet without permission—a violation of the agency's adoption policy—a Mutts and Moms representative went to the hairdresser's home with a police escort and seized the dog.

DeGeneres, 49, who admitted on her show she had not read through the adoption paperwork carefully enough, suggested to Seacrest that the owners of the agency had a vendetta against her. She said she pleaded with them not to take out her mistake on the dog and the family and begged them to just go to the home to evaluate Iggy's new living situation. Instead, she said, the representative entered the house and snatched the dog away. 

She said her hairdresser's 11- and 12-year-old daughters were devastated by the loss of the dog, after begging with the agency for three hours to let them keep their pet.

"I thought I did a good thing," an emotional DeGeneres said Tuesday during her show. "I tried to find a loving home for the dog, because I couldn't keep it.

"I feel totally responsible for it, and I'm so sorry. I'm begging them to give that dog back to that family. It's not their fault. It's my fault. I shouldn't have given the dog away. Just please give the dog back to those little girls."

However, Mutts and Moms, which has a policy of not working with families with children under 14, has declined to do so.

"[Batkis] doesn't think this is the type of family that should have the dog," attorney Keith A. Fink, who does not represent the owners but was authorized to speak on their behalf, told the Associated Press. "She is adamant that she is not going to be bullied around by the Ellen DeGenereses of the world…They are using their power, position and wealth to try to get what it is they want."

DeGeneres' publicist, Kelly Bush, said her client was simply interested in ensuring the dog was in a good and loving home.

"It's very upsetting to hear that someone is getting those kinds of calls," Bush told the AP about the threats directed at Mutts and Moms. "Ellen just wants the dog reunited with the family."

A more composed DeGeneres said as much on her show Wednesday, while renewing her plea for Iggy to be given back to her hairdresser.

"It's become so insane," she said. "The dog just needs to go to the family."
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