OK, so Ellen DeGeneres adopted a dog from a rescue organization. The dog didn't work out with her cats. Rather than returning it to the rescue, as the contract she signed stated she was obligated to do, she gave it to her her hairdresser (read about it here). When the rescue called to check on the adoption and was informed that that dog had been given away, a rescue representative went to the home of the hairdresser (who has pre-teen children) and reclaimed the dog. The Ellen went on her show crying and apologizing, saying that she thought she had done the right thing by finding the dog a family, and that the rescue is not a home or a family, and that her mistake shouldn't be taken out on the dog or the children, who had become attached to it.
Now imagine livid little me.
Ellen's "I guess I signed a piece of paper that says if I can't keep Iggy, it goes back to the rescue organization" doesn't cut it. If you adopt a pet from a rescue, it is standard procedure to agree to give the pet back to the rescue if you cannot care for it. There is a really good reason for this--rescue organizations put a ton of time and money into their rescues, and we are absolutely committed to finding appropriate homes for our animals. Your home may have been screened and found appropriate, but that doesn't mean the home of whomever you decide to give the animal to will, and it is both the right and the responsibility of the rescue to make sure the placement is healthy and happy.
The obligation of the rescue is not to you, to the family you decide to give your pet away to, or to any other human. The responsibility of the rescue is to find the best placement for that pet. And even if the family to whom DeGeneres gave the dog is perfect, the responsible thing for the rescue to do, in my opinion, is to reclaim that dog until that judgment can be made. I understand why that would be hard on the kids in that family, but the emotions of those kids cannot be the rescue priority--the rescue priority HAS to be the dog.
DeGeneres' flip attitude toward this rescue policy (which is, to my mind, the single most important policy a rescue can have) is the thing that bothers me most. To me, it implies that she never took rescuing seriously enough--she clearly didn't even read the contract! I also wonder about her reasons for giving up the dog--shouldn't it have been tested with her cats before the adoption ever happened?
We will probably have an adoption go through for Eugene this week. Not only will the adopters sign a contract that says they'll return Eugene to us if they can't keep him for any reason, we also institute a seven day trial period wherein Eugene will live with them but can be returned to us at any time if it isn't working, for a full refund of his adoption fee. Mark and I will make sure our adopters are aware of both of these clauses before they ever take possession of the animal for which we've been caring. And if we find out down the line that they decided to give him away to someone we've never heard of, rather than bringing him back to us, you can bet your ass I'll be at that person's door taking the dog back. He's my obligation.