Animal Shelter Disputes Lena Dunham’s Story About Lamby, the Dog She Gave Away

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Lena Dunham with Lamby at an airport in 2015. (Photo: Ron Asadorian/Splash News)

The no-kill shelter from which Lena Dunham adopted Lamby — the dog she recently gave away after what she described as “four years of challenging behavior and aggression” — isn’t buying her story.

On June 21, the Girls alum shared on Instagram her “heartbreaking” decision to give away Lamby to an “amazing professional facility” in L.A. to be cared for by someone “educated in a rescue dog’s specific trauma.” Dunham noted that “Lamby suffered terrible abuse as a pup,” which “made having him in a typical home environment dangerous to him and others” and she and boyfriend musician Jack Antonoff “needed to be responsible to ourselves, our neighbors and especially our beloved boy.” They also needed to save their home, as the dog “ruined floors and couches and our life.”

A spokesperson for BARC Shelter in Brooklyn — where Dunham adopted Lamby in January 2013 before going on to make the dog a star by detailing his adoption in a New Yorker article, showing him off in magazine spreads like Vogue, and spotlighting him on her Instagram feed — has a different story though. For starters, the pet didn’t have a long history of abuse prior to Lena bringing him home.

“We checked the records for Lamby,” Robert Vazquez told Yahoo Celebrity via email. “He was ‘owner surrendered, not enough time,’ so we do not know where she got ‘multiple owners that abused the dog.’” (In her New Yorker piece from March 2013, Dunham said the dog had “three other homes, three other names, but now he’s mine mine mine.”)

At the time of his adoption by the star, the dog was just 1 “nearing 2-years-old” — and he didn’t have a history of being aggressive.

“When she adopted the dog from us, it wasn’t crazy,” Vazquez continued. “I have pictures of the dog loving on Lena and her mom, which is weird if the dog was abused. It wouldn’t be cuddling with her or be in the bed with her ‘boyfriend’ in the pages of Vogue.” (Lamby appeared with Lena in a 2014 Vogue spread, which also featuring her co-star Adam Driver. The dog, which seemed like a trained pro, was with the pair on city streets, in bed, and chilling with the pair in the bathroom.)

Vazquez says he personally was there “the four times Lena visited Lamby” prior to the adoption “because I’ve been in-charge of the dogs for the last 14-15 years at BARC. 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.”

Lena has previously said the dog’s aggression started immediately. In the New Yorker piece, she wrote that despite Jack’s allergies to dogs, she adopted Lamby anyway. Things were fine at first — because Jack wasn’t there — but the first night the singer met the dog, the dog bit him. In 2014, she posted an Instagram photo of her blood-stained panties after she said the dog bit her in the rear. She tweeted that it was the second time Lamby bit her (both times the dog became upset because Lena was “sobbing”). After the incident made headlines, she posted again about how the “special-need rescue dog” was working with “an amazing trainer.

The BARC rep said, “It’s just hard to believe the dog was nasty when she took Lamby to every green room with her when Girls was still a thing 4 years ago.”

Vazquez is also disappointed that Lena got two new puppies shortly before giving away Lamby. (Dunham brought the cute canines with her to a Tonight Show appearance in February. During the interview, in which the new pups were passed around, she didn’t hint at trouble with Lamby. “Their brother, Lamby, lives in California. He’s more of a Cali kinda guy. More of a laid-back, West Coast dude,” she said.)

“[She] didn’t admit she bought her two new dogs [despite writing in the] New Yorker that dogs shouldn’t be dumped or thrown away because they have feelings,” he said.

Additionally, Vazquez pointed out that BARC — like other shelters — has a provision in its adoption papers mandating that if things don’t work out with the pet, which happens, it must be returned to the rescue organization instead of being re-homed, as Lena did and urged her 3.3 million Instagram followers to do. (“If you have a similar situation, please know it’s possible to responsibly re-home your rescue rather than sending them back into the shelter system,” she wrote. “It can require patience, diligence, and often a financial contribution, but there are solutions that leave everyone happy and safe. You will always have been your dog’s first stop outside shelter life and that’s beautiful.”)

“Really the only thing we can say is that she is still under contract, which states that if it doesn’t work out, they have to bring back the dog to us, so we can evaluate it,”  Vazquez said.

A rep for Dunham had no comment on the matter.

Yahoo Celebrity also reached out to a source close to Dunham, who said the actress went to great lengths to get the dog help before ultimately deciding to re-home him in an environment where he’s getting the best care and love. “Lena had Lamby checked out by at least six different vets,” the insider said. Those medical professionals were the ones who determined that the dog suffered from “past abuse” — and even “possible brain damage.” Lamby now lives at the L.A. canine rehabilitation center, the Zen Dog, which takes in and treats dogs with intense behavioral issues. (The Cut recently profiled the facility.)

And a spokesperson for The Humane Society of the United States, Michelle Cho who does celebrity and entertainment outreach, told Yahoo, “Every dog is an individual with unique needs and all are deserving of a family or guardian in an environment in which he or she can thrive. We are deeply grateful to Lena and Jack for finding Lamby a loving home where he can do just that. Lena is a wonderful advocate for dog adoption and [we] hope she will continue to use her platform to spotlight the homeless animal crisis and urge her legions of fans to consider rescuing.”

On Thursday evening, Dunham addressed this story in a post on Instagram, which featured a picture of a painting of the dog which hangs in her house. She started by saying, “It’s come to my attention that the staff at the shelter where I adopted Lamby have a very different account of his early life and behavioral issues than I do.” However, she noted that she “can’t apologize.” Of her decision to give him away, she said, “I did what I thought the best mother would do, which was to give him a life that provided for his specific needs… After countless hours of training, endless financial support and a lot of tears he was given access to a better life. I still support him financially and I’ll always be there for him in every way but he’s notably happier in his new surroundings.” And while she has “weathered a lot of micro-scandals … this one hurts MOST, because of the vulnerability of letting people know Lamby and my story, and because I miss him so damn much.”

You can read her entire post here:

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