Ellen DeGeneres' doggie dilemma has taken a nasty turn, with the operator of the animal rescue organisation that took the dog away saying she had been deluged with threatening emails and phone calls.
The calls got so bad that Marina Batkis said she had to close her business and stay at home.
The twisted dog tale began last month when DeGeneres and her partner, Australian actor Portia de Rossi, adopted a cute, black Brussels-Griffon cross named Iggy.
Batkis and Vanessa Chekroun co-own Mutts and Moms, the non-profit dog-rescue organisation that gave the dog to DeGeneres and de Rossi.
When Iggy was not able to get along with DeGeneres's cats, the couple gave the dog to DeGeneres's hairdresser.
Batkis said that violated a written agreement de Rossi had signed, in which she agreed to return the dog to Mutts and Moms if the adoption did not work out.
When the agency called DeGeneres to ask about Iggy, she said she found another home for the dog. The agency sent a representative to the hairdresser's home on Sunday and took the dog away.
DeGeneres broadcast a tearful, televised plea for the dog to be returned to her hairdresser and her daughters.
She said she spent $US3000 ($3300) having the dog neutered and trained to be with her cats. But the dog had too much energy and was too rambunctious, she told her audience.
"I guess I signed a piece of paper that says if I can't keep Iggy, it goes back to the rescue organisation, which is not someone's home, which is not a family," she said.
"I thought I did a good thing. I tried to find a loving home for the dog because I couldn't keep it."
DeGeneres said her hairdresser's daughters, aged 11 and 12, had bonded with Iggy and were heartbroken when the dog was taken away.
"Because I did it wrong, those people went and took that dog out of their home, and took it away from those kids," a sobbing DeGeneres said on her show.
"I feel totally responsible for it and I'm so sorry. I'm begging them to give that dog back to that family," she said. "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."
A tearful Batkis said outside her home on Wednesday: "My life is being threatened. This is horrible."
"They have got thousands of emails," lawyer Keith Fink told the television program Inside Edition.
"Most of them are hate emails threatening them with lynchings, bombings of their home."
One recording Inside Edition played had a male voice saying, "You Nazi, scum-sucking pigs. You're gonna pay dearly for stealing this dog from those little girls."
DeGeneres acknowledged she erred, but said her hairdresser and her family should not be punished.
"This is so insane," a calmer DeGeneres said on her talk show on Wednesday. "It's just the dog needs to go to the family."
Batkis has refused to back down.
"If Ellen wants to place dogs and decide what's a good home, then she should start her own rescue group," she told Inside Edition. "But I'm the one doing this and I know what I'm doing."
The dispute has become a hot topic on news and talk shows.
"There's got to be some sort of rational compromise," ABC's Diane Sawyer said on Good Morning America.