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 Controversy Erupts Over LA Animal Services Racist Campaign

(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.

  • Controversy Erupts Over LA Animal Services? ?Racist? Campaign | Los Angeles for Me

    […] Some people are taking offense at banners at the South L.A. Animal Shelter that show minority children playing with pitbulls, calling the portrayal stereotypical and racist. More from:… […]

  • Erin

    Lets see here…blacks and hispanics make up the majority of people in all jails and prisons (statistics don’t lie) and most insurance companies constantly state that bulldogs are loyal to owners and aggressive/dangerous with everyone else. Point being, they all belong in the same category – L O O S E R S

    • gabriela franco

      yeah if u put blacks and mexicans together the satistics will be higher but whites are said to commit more crimes. check your statistics again before you sound so ignorant

      • Great idea gab!

        If you put the blacks and mexicans in general population they will kill each other. Then the whites will statisticly be more. Basic math 101 gab, and a great idea to thin out the majority population in lock-up!

      • Duh!

        Good point Gabriela, but Erin did not say “commit more crimes”. She said in jails. Therefore, one can assume that certain types of people are smarter than others because they do not get caught as often.

    • USA1917

      Never argue with a racist because they are all morons and everyone knows that if you argue with a moron you will always lose because they will pull you down to their level and then beat you with years of experience of idiocy.

    • Styker 21

      They need them to protect their drug houses and so they can look tough. What a bunch of losers.

  • Andrew

    Well said Dragon! Its a dog for Christ’s sake. If they replaced the pit bulls with chihuahuas, they call that racist too!

  • Silvia

    Well they have to advertise to potential pet owners, white people are afraid of anything that moves too fast, barks too loud, or it might scratch them.

    • Paco

      You tell them Chica!

    • randy

      You must be one of the racists that USA1917 referenced.

      • Not the one

        Judge not, lest ye be judged!

  • vinny

    freekin people gripe if you dont put them in an ad then they gripe when you do

  • Mercurial soul

    First of all, blacks are a minority in CA, the mexicans may not be a minority, but they don’t have access to the same quality of life that whites enjoy. I’ve been telling my 7 year old daughter that Pit bulls not pets, they are as friendly as a coyote so seeing an ad that encouraged her to play with a dangerous animal is very upsetting to say the least. By the way, the unemployment rate is about 10%, it’s about 19% for blacks, so yes, we do have a lot to complain about, and we don’t ever expect you to understand.

    • Brittany

      Are you serious? I am the whitest person you can meet and grew up in SoCal in an area that is 92% hispanic, and most of those kids have access to more health benefits and TONS more financial aid when it come to going to college.
      Do you teach your kids to only play with other kids her race too? You’re just as bad as anyone making your child bigoted. Judging a pit bull because it’s breed is no worse than racism. These dogs are getting killed because of uneducated people like you continuing negative stereotypes.

    • Astonished

      You said that already. It’s old, and tired, and incorrect. As for any one part of the population not having the same opportunities as others parts, it is our own fault because extremists have made it so skin color, eye shape, and language mean more than the person themselves. If you want to talk discrimination, then maybe you can explain why it is that there are colleges who only admit African Americans and NO OTHER SKIN COLOR, and why we allow people who are here illegally to get school grants and loans that legal citizens can’t even hope to obtain. Those are examples of reverse discrimination.

    • Mufon

      “…they don’t have access to the same quality of life that whites enjoy.”

      “They” and you do, it’s what you make of your opportunities. Stop complaining and start acting, regardless of color. Plenty of folks of color, immigrants, handicapped, etc., leading successful and profitable lives for themselves and society. They don’t make excuses and complain, they take action and control of their fate. Give it a try, you may be surprised.

    • So Sick Of The Race Card Being Played At Every Whim

      Oh please, Mercurial. You, assuming you are black, have NOTHING to complain about. This is the 21st century! Yes, there is racism against blacks still. There is PLENTY of racism against whites too, and a lot of that comes from the black community. For you to say you have a lot to complain about and that we wouldn’t understand is COMPLETELY IGNORANT of you. Did you not notice the skin color of the President of the United States of America?! Blacks, and Hispanics, have WAY more opportunities in today’s world than they EVER did 100 or 200 years ago. Geez, 50 years ago. Take a look around. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian- IT DOES NOT MATTER! We all have the chance to make something successful out of our lives. And if you think you need to complain, well, sir, I would start making those complaints in front of the mirror.

    • In LA

      Pit bulls are not dangerous. They used to be considered nanny dogs. If idiots like you would stop keeping the stereotype alive then there would be no problems with these dogs getting adopted. I would be more afraid of a chihuahua attacking a child than a pit bull.

      • H.p. Morgan

        At no time until the propaganda machine of recent times, were pits considered “nanny” dogs. This was promoted by some ancient pictures of children with a pit bull. There are also ancient pictures of children with alligators, does that make them gator nannies? Here, learn the truth behind the pits of the pit bulls.

      • Astonished

        Pit Bulls were bred to fight bulls and other dogs. That is a fact. Along with the fact that unlike any other breed of dog, Pit Bulls bite, hold on and refuse to release their grip, making their bites far more deadly. Other breeds bite and release.

        Low brow, crude and ignorant people have stereotyped the breed by beefing them up on steroids and using them as weapons, because they have no courage of their own. This is very unfortunate for the breed because if properly socialized and trained these dogs are very loving and peaceful.

    • greg

      I will buy you a pit bull for you and your kids to play with, hell invite all the neighborhood homies over and I will buy you 3. BTW, complain to someone who care, your bro in the white house

  • Joey Teem

    Should be very interesting indeed to see how that all turns out.

  • ginny

    So if they had put up signs showing white kids and a put bull are you telling me someone wouldn’t have found something wrong with those too? My monies on the same result but for using a different reason. People need to stop seeing something racist, political, etc. in just about everything these days. Get a life and take it for what I saw it as, kids and a dog.

  • USA1917

    Never argue with a bigot because they are all morons and everyone knows that if you argue with a moron you will always lose because they will pull you down to their level and then beat you with years of experience of idiocy.

  • jim

    the dog doesn’t care what color you are, just adopt em.

  • jin

    what about Sharpei dogs for the Asians

    • USA1911

      It is a simple picture of kids playing with a dog.

      Speaking of years of bigotry, racisum, and best of all idiocy!

  • Ghetto Elk lover!

    I work in south LA and in my opinion pit bulls are a very popular dog. I would even suggest that they are the most popular mid size bread in that part of town. Another observation of south LA is that the majority of people living there are black and Hispanic. So, the pic in the ad is not stereotypical or racist. If anything, it was a well thought out ad campaign aimed at getting south LA families to adopt a pet. And the lady from the Animal Issues Movement is just nuts and wants attention for her cause.

    • Astonished

      OMG! A reasonable person posting! Thank you for saying what you did. I saw this piece last night and couldn’t figure out why everyone was upset. In fact, I don’t think this banner should cause any concerns no matter where it was posted.

  • Concern raises $7.9 Million . raises $5.6 Million.

  • Mary

    Unfortunately, when I see a Pit Bull, I am reminded of African American’s or Hispanics (I am Hispanic) wandering down the streets with THICK chains around the poor dogs neck, the pet owner wearing BAGGY pants down to his balls, or a hard core “Wanna-be” gang-banger walking down the street, acting brave with the Pit Bull in hand. I love my race – but we have to be honest – we Hispanics and the African American community are the majority that owns these pets. I don’t personally own one; however, about 7 members in my family do – and I won’t even go to their homes to visit them because the dogs look so vicious and because my cousin is one of those idiots whom thinks he is a gang banger (He is nothing but a wanna-be) and allows his dogs to roam free in the yard and house. I don’t see anything wrong with the sign – I think the kids are ADORABLE and the sign is innocent…at least to me.

    • Christ

      So dear Mary you are finally owning up to being a Hispanic.

  • Stretch

    The sad part is Animal Shelters in Southern California are filled with two types of dogs Pits and Chiihuauas or a mix of those two breeds with some other dog. Rescue groups usually take any other dog that looks like a pure bred. This is true even for the shelters in West LA and Santa Monica where White People live if you want to throw racial stereo types out there. I know this because I recently adopted from one of these shelters and I got the ONLY dog there at the time that was not a Pit or Chihuaua.
    So knowing that those dogs make up the majority of all shelters in So Cal isn’t it possible that the shelter was just trying to market the dogs they have to the community they are located in. If the same ad would have ran with white kids in it. The same people would be complaining that they used white kids in an area where there are very few white people instead of black or hispanic kids.
    These poor dogs need a loving home no matter what breed they are and no matter what the race of the adopted family. The people that made this an “issue” should be ashamed of themselves. Also for the record the best dog I ever had was an American Pit Bull Terrier.

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  • ???????

    They could have least put GOOD LOOKING people in that poster… The dog looks Great!!

  • ?????

    Pits are NOT bad!! It’s the OWNERs that are!!

  • Ossie

    Sounds like the dogs are victims of racism-what’s wrong with being a pit bull? Are those poor little animals being stereotyped by having them portrayed as playing with [gasp] minority children? Tsk tsk tsk.

  • Brittany

    This is possibly the STUPIDEST accusation ever!

    The way the news says pit bulls, like shut up! they’re some of the greatest dog you’ll meet, if you want to accuse anyone of profiling, how about all the news people who like to make pit bulls seem so bad.

    The “pit bull” in the ad looked more like a lab mix to me, but whatever, that’s a whole different issue of mislabeling pets. Just shut up and go save a dog, at least there’s a goal to these signs.

    Ugh I could go on, but the LA Shelters may get a bad rap for the high euthanasia rates, but blame the community, not the shelters. They provide so many free/low-cost spay neuter programs, they CANNOT by law turn down any dog, and they only have so much room. They joined No Kill Nation and have goals to promote adoptions, to promote and educate spaying and neutering and are doing so much in the community, I commend them!

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  • L.A. Voter

    It might be nice if the author of this article did a little source-checking before writing. Phyllis Daugherty is known for two things: Spending all day, every day haunting City Hall in a weird obsession with Animal Sevices (although not any benign interest in animals, more a narcissistic urge to be seen by folks who don’t know or care any better at City Hall as some kind of self-declared “expert” on all animal issues, despite her complete lack of credentials). This “reporter” might want to research who exactly comprises Daugherty’s alleged organization. The entire membership of the “Animal Issues Movement”? One person: Phyllis Daugherty.

    The other thing she is known for is her obsessive hatred for and slander of Pit Bulls. She has made any number of false and ignorant statements about them, including saying the dogs who attacked and killed Diane Whipple in San Francisco in 2001 were Pits — when any casual news-reader knows it was reported from the instant of Whipple’s death that they were Presa Canarios. Phyllis Daugherty is someone who should be investigated for her undue influence and lack of credentials, not someone who should be quoted as if she has any expertise in anything.

    BTW, speaking as a white person, I have known many Pit Bulls and love them very much. They are NOT typically aggressive towards people and anyone who says they are clearly knows nothing about them. Some may have a predisposition towards aggression towards other dogs, but an intelligent owner can handle this easily. If you don’t know the breed (or how to spell) maybe you shouldn’t post about them.

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