Lena Dunham, writer, producer and star of the HBO series “Girls�? is no stranger to controversy; attracting the ire of keyboard warriors and fellow celebrities since the beginning of her career.
But last month, Dunham appears to have instigated a feud with an entirely different breed of dissenter: an animal shelter.
According to the New York Times, Dunham adopted a two-year-old mixed breed dog named Lamby from the BARC shelter in Brooklyn in January of 2013.
After revealing the adoption in an article she wrote for the New Yorker, Dunham gushed about Lamby in interviews and made him the star of her Instagram account. It wasn’t long, however, that Dunman started to publicize Lamby’s difficulties being alone, night terrors, and growing aggression. The dog reportedly bit her boyfriend the first night they met, and would go on to bite Dunham at least twice.
Lamby’s behavior worsened to the point where Dunham turned him over to Zen Dog, a canine rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles.
The aforementioned feud arose on June 21 when Dunham wrote on Instagram that Lamby’s problems were a product of the “terrible abuse�? he experienced “as a pup,�? which “made having him in a typical home environment dangerous to him and others.�?
This statement came as a surprise to the BARC animal shelter where Dunham adopted Lamby, particularly staff member Robert Vazquez.
“When she adopted the dog from us, it wasn’t crazy,�? Vazquez told Yahoo Celebrity, noting that Lamby was initially very affectionate with Dunham and her mother, something atypical for a dog who suffers abuse.
Such dogs, Vazquez added, also probably wouldn’t have been so comfortable being professionally photographed by magazines in new environments.
“If Lamby had a bad past or was abused, do you think BARC would have adopted him to Lena knowing she’s a new star and put her — or the dog — in that situation? We would have told her if the dog had issues. We are a no-kill shelter. We don’t lie about the dogs’ histories because that gets them returned — and mentally it’s not good for dogs,�? he said.
Vincent Spinola, BARC’s founder and director, backed up Vazquez’s claims in an email to the Times:
“When the dog was here at BARC, where he lived with us for just under a month before he was adopted, he was mild mannered and very well behaved. There were no signs of bad temperament or any kind of aggression.�?
BARC’s response to Dunham’s Instagram post triggered accusations on social media that she lied about Lamby’s abuse and subjected him to an environment that made him hostile. A source close to Dunham told Yahoo that “at least six different vets�? examined Lamby and collectively determined that the dog had in fact experienced “past abuse�? along with “possible brain damage.�?
Lamby is currently doing just fine with his new owner, who is a former employee of Zen Dog. Matt Beisner, founder and owner of the facility, isn’t sure if Lamby had been abused but said behavioral issues are usually due to experiences the dog has had before its first birthday.
“So from Lamby’s standpoint, he was acting out in part because of his own back story and wherever he came from before being rescued,�? Beisner claimed.
BARC is yet to concede that Lamby was abused and has suggested that Dunham’s decision to take the dog into her chaotic life is instead to blame for his behavior.
If a recently adopted dog is not getting along with its owner, the Companion Animals department of the Humane Society of the United States recommends finding a “qualified training expert�? as opposed to “throwing in the towel.�? Aspiring dog owners can avoid such situations by learning about the different needs for dogs of various sizes and energy levels, said Kenny Lamberti, vice president of the Companion Animals department.
Only after learning as much as possible about the reality of owning a dog, Lamberti inferred, should someone make the decision to adopt.