Maybe we're just being paranoid and/or hypersensitive, but L.A. Animal Services' adopt-a-pet campaign looks to be landing on the racist (slash classist) side of PSA advertising these days. The ferocious bloggers at Opposing Views have posted photos of two banners, for contrast: The first, above, showing a Latina child getting slobbered on by a black pitbull, is located at the South L.A. Shelter. The second, below, in which a white girl hugs an old basset hound (or beagle -- can't quite tell), is located at the West L.A. Shelter.
At the first location, another banner shows three black kids playing with the same pitbull. (Furthermore, as noted by Opposing Views, "South Central" is a long-outdated term that was deemed negatively loaded by city officials and replaced with simply "South L.A.") And at the second location, another banner shows an Asian child with his arm around a small terrier.
What do you think: Is Animal Services just trying to relate to the average constituent of each area, to maximize chances that a dog will get adopted? Or is the classification of a pitbull as a hood breed just straight racist -- a city-sanctioned stereotype to play into young L.A. people's already slanted view of themselves in society?
Opposing Views contributor Phyllis M. Daugherty, who formerly wrote about Animal Services for the LA Daily News, sinks her teeth into the department's shady ties as a sub-investigation of the racist new plugs (links added):
The seven $154 million new and expanded L.A. City shelters are strategically placed in highly visible, heavily trafficked locations throughout Los Angeles, and were carefully landscaped, including tree placement, under 2001 Prop. F bond funding being paid by property owners.
So what motivated the publicly undisclosed agreements between [brand-new Animal Services director Brenda Barnette] and two nonprofit entities to place giant banners which adorn the shelters with prominent logos of either the Bernheim Foundation or Best Friends? And, worse yet, why did city shelters become the target of a senseless massacre of mature trees? Ms. Barnette and Beverly Hills Attorney Steven Jay Bernheim seem convinced the supergraphics will cause people to get shelter pets.
We know: It seems like a long shot (and a serious case of "crying wolf") to suspect that city corruption could reach as far down as some innocent pet-adoption campaign. But there's definitely something weird going on here. In a Daily News article from August, Bernheim (the Beverly Hills attorney who commissioned these banners) said...
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... "the the marketing banner strategy was hatched by animal welfare activist Pamelyn Ferdin, of Animal Defense League-Los Angeles, and agreed to by Barnette, who took over a year ago as head of Animal Services."
Ferdin is known around L.A. as the kind of animal activist who would go so far as to support radical groups that attack scientists who conduct monkey research. In other words: The kind of animal activist who, when push comes to shove, will choose animals over just about anything.
Including trees. And human cures. And, apparently, equality between South and West L.A. youth.