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Controversy Erupts Over LA Animal Services' 'Racist' Campaign


SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Newly-installed banners at the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter show African-American and Latino children playing with pit bulls in an effort to encourage dog adoptions. Banners at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter, however, show children playing with other breeds known for being more docile and loving.

Do you see something wrong with this picture?

The director of the Animal Issues Movement, Phyllis Daugherty, says you should. Daugherty told KCAL9 that she thought the banners portrayed a stereotype that minorities are prone to like pit bulls.

Brenda Barnette, the general manager of L.A. Animal Services, said there's nothing racist or stereotypical about marketing dogs that are popular in the community served by the shelter.

"The thing that was depicted for me in the picture was the all-American family dog, I mean think about 'Spanky and Our Gang,' that was a pit bull running with kids in the neighborhood. So I don't think there's anything in that that it had any kind of profiling, I mean I think it's actually a little ridiculous to even suggest that," she said.

South LA Animal Shelter Banner
(credit: CBS)

Some shelter volunteers don't see the banners as racist, but can understand how others might think they are stereotypical.

Still, Daugherty said the banners send a bad message.

"I don't know where she got the idea that people here prefer pit bulls, there was no study done. The community was not involved. Why are there not pit bulls in North Central or West LA advertised on the banners?" she asked.

There's more to this controversy as well. The new banner currently reads "South Central Animal Shelter," but according to the city of LA, this is now "South LA" and it has been for quite a while. South Central, they say, brings back pretty bad memories of the days of open gang warfare in the streets and the Rodney King riots, among other things that people would just as soon forget. Even Barnette admitted that was a mistake and the sign will be changed.

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