US comedian DeGeneres wants calm in shaggy dog tale

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NEW YORK, Oct 19 (Reuters) For comedian Ellen DeGeneres, this shaggy dog tale has gone too far.

DeGeneres appealed yesterday for people to stop making death threats in a tug-of-war over a puppy that has included sobbing on television and sparked fierce debate among animal lovers across the United States.

DeGeneres, one of the country's best known entertainers, wept on television on Tuesday as she recounted how an animal rescue group took back a puppy that she had adopted with her actress partner but then passed on to her hairstylist's family without the animal agency's permission.

The on-air tears from DeGeneres, host of the Oscar awards this year, sparked strong emotions around the country. Footage of DeGeneres begging for the agency to return the dog, Iggy, was replayed endlessly on the Internet and celebrity news shows.

DeGeneres, who notably stirred controversy when she came out as a lesbian on television a decade ago, appealed for calm on her morning GV show yesterday.

''I think this is last time I am talking about this unless I am lucky enough to say one day to you, Iggy has returned,'' she said. ''It's gotten out of hand. The people that have Iggy or had Iggy, I don't know, are receiving death threats, I am told, and that is not OK.

''I know people are passionate about this and people have strong feelings -- I love animals, I have strong feelings I want nothing more than that dog returned to that family -- but you don't resort to violence. So anybody out there, please stop that.'' The performer said she had adopted the shaggy-haired mixed breed dog in September and spent thousands of dollars to neuter and train it. But the dog did not get along with her cats, so she later gave Iggy to her hairstylist.

The Pasadena-based Mutts and Moms, reclaimed the dog on the grounds that DeGeneres violated terms of her adoption agreement that required her to return the pet to the agency if she chose not to keep it.

One owner of Mutts and Moms, Marina Baktis told Pasadena police that she had received several threats on her cell phone and her work phone. Police said they had no suspects as yet.

REUTERS SYU KP0855

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