PR Gaffe…Good for Ellen, Bad for Mutts

In October 2007, Ellen Degeneres appeared in rare form on her show The Ellen DeGeneres Show very emotional delivering a direct message to a pet adoption agency that made one of the biggest PR gaffes of the year. It all stemmed from Ellen and her wife Portia de Rossi wanting to extend their family with a new puppy. Ellen and Portia adopted a dog named Iggy from a nonprofit agency called Mutts and Moms based out of Pasadena, California which rescues dogs and finds them a new loving home. Iggy had a rough time adjusting to the new home with their 3 cats and even Ellen’s dog trainer Zack Grey, who worked with Iggy during 12 days of obedience training, couldn’t teach him to get along with their cats and together Ellen and Portia had to make the ultimate decision to find another home for Iggy.

It didn’t take long for Ellen to decide who would be a better fit for Iggy. Ellen believed she had found Iggy the perfect loving new home when she gave Iggy to her long time makeup artist Cheryl which has 2 young daughters of her own. But when Marina Baktis, cofounder of Mutts and Moms, called a few weeks later to check in on Iggy Ellen told her the truth about giving Iggy away which started a whirl wind of the PR fiasco.

Ellen’s plea to Mutts and Moms to give Iggy back

According to the People Magazine’s article, when adopting Iggy, Ellen signed a contract that stated she could not give the adopted dog to anyone else. When Baktis visited Iggy’s new home she took the dog away from Cheryl and her daughters and returned Iggy back to the agency where he was later placed into a new home stating DeGeneres broke the contract and Baktis was following their policy. There was a major out lash from Ellen fans and Baktis received numerous calls, letters and even death threats. This led Mutts and Moms to temporarily shut down their operation and lawyers of Baktis made a statement that it had taken an emotional toll on her as well.

Although Mutts and Moms made it through the controversy it took years to overcome one of the biggest PR gaffes of the year. Mutts and Moms are still in operation.


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