DOGGIE UPDATE (Wednesday, 10/17, 11:49 AM PDT):
Access Hollywood spoke with attorney Keith Fink [who is speaking for on behalf of Marina Baktis] on Wednesday morning. Fink told us that another home has been found for the dog although he was not able to say for certain that the dog has been physically given to the new owner yet.
He added that Baktis is distraught, under medication at her home, and that she can’t come out of her house. He says that both he and Baktis are getting numerous e-mail and phone threats, as well as death threats.
“If Ellen’s object was to destroy my client to get her way, she has done that,” Fink told Access. “My client is destroyed.”
Under the Mutts and Moms contract agreement (section 3H discusses the “NO RIGHT TO TRANSFER”), which Access has obtained a copy of, anyone accepting a dog agrees to “NOT give or sell ADOPTEE to another person, company, organization, medical research, pound or animal shelter,” or, “If ADOPTER fails to abide by the terms of this clause, ADOPTER will pay all costs, including any legal fees incurred, required to secure the return of ADOPTEE to RESCUE and will, in addition, be required to pay liquidated damages in the amount of $500.”
PASADENA, Calif. (October 16, 2007) – If ever the proverb, ‘No good deed goes unpunished’ held true, today might be it.
Ellen DeGeneres’ great dog scandal of ’07 intensified Tuesday, as the owners of Mutts and Moms adoption agency went on the record saying that they’ve begun receiving threats of death and arson after taking Iggy back, the Brussels Griffon mix terrier at the center of this tug-of-war, who they allege was given away by DeGeneres in a breach of contract.
Marina Baktis spoke with Access Hollywood Tuesday evening about the great strife that this incident has caused her and her business partner, Vanessa Chekroun.
“My life is being threatened, this is horrible. I rescue dogs. I can’t believe this,” Baktis said sobbing Tuesday night.
Access has reached out to Ellen’s publicist for comment on the threats, but has not heard back. Ellen’s attorney had “no comment” on the situation.
“People are being so cruel to us. People are sending things that say ‘Nazi’ and words that I can’t repeat. You know so we can’t even review [adoption] applications because at this point we think [the threat givers] are just gonna come and try to hurt our animals.”
Baktis told Access that she’s worried for her safety and that her own dogs are being threatened.
“I haven’t eaten, I’m sick, and I’ve had heart palpitations,” she said.
She also claims that she’s losing business at her store, Paws Boutique, and that she’s had to remove Mutts and Moms Web site from the Internet.
“Now we can’t go to work because there is all this mediaâ¦ And so we’re losing businessâ¦ Our reputation, they ruined our reputation,” Baktis continued.
As previously reported, DeGeneres gave Iggy to her hairdresser and her hairdresser’s two daughters, when Iggy didn’t get along with DeGeneres’ cats. The dog had bonded with its new temporary owners, when Mutts and Moms took the dog away because DeGeneres had not followed the agency’s protocol.
Baktis has now said that she would never give back Iggy to the family that DeGeneres handed him off to.
“No, that is not a consideration at this point, no,” Baktis told Access. “Not after the way we’ve been treated, no. We have been terrorized, it has been horrible.”
Attorney Keith A. Fink, who doesn’t legally represent Baktis and Chekroun (but is authorized to speak on their behalf), confirmed to The Associated Press that the women will not give back Iggy.
“She doesn’t think this is the type of family that should have the dog,” Fink told the AP. “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.”
Baktis claims that DeGeneres’ celebrity is the sole reason why she’s getting all of this attention.
“Celebrities you know, they, 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.‘”
Marina adds though, that she has no plans to sue Ellen.
DeGeneres addressed the issue in her television show’s taping today: “This has become so insane, it’s just… the dog just needs to go to the family, the fight should just - it should not be about anything but - the whole thing that people rescue animals to find a good home, you know? It just needs to be in a good home, that’s all that you’re supposed to do, is put a dog in a loving homeâ¦” the comedienne said.
“She thought she was doing a good thing,” DeGeneres’ rep, Kelly Bush, told the AP. “She’s notorious for rescuing animals and finding them good homes. She found the dog a wonderful, wonderful home.”
Pat Buono, owner of Pat’s Pet Grooming in Pasadena, knows Batkis and Chekroun, because Mutts and Moms operates out of an office next door to their shop. Buono’s business was also besieged by media Tuesday afternoon, but she doesn’t necessarily think that either party has committed an egregious error.
“I just wondered, ‘If it wasn’t Ellen if anyone would even be here or even be checking on this?’ They [Batkis and Chekroun] are trying to do a good thing. They are trying to rescue and help dogs and perhaps in this particular case they didn’t see the forest for the trees,” Buono told Access.
“We just have to assume since it was Ellen that she wouldn’t put the dog in harms way. But you don’t know, and nor did Marina. So in fairness to her I’m sure she wanted to be surer that the dog was given a good home. And perhaps there was several people that were interested in the dog at the same time.”
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued the following statement to Access Tuesday: “At a time when so many people in Hollywood, like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, are making impetuous ‘pet’ purchases, PETA commends Ellen for adopting a homeless animal from a shelter…we know that Ellen was trying to do the right thing…she just missed a step.”