Animal Rescue Activist Thwarted by KTLA’s ‘Anti-Pit Bull Policy’*

Here’s a strange story courtesy of examiner.com animal advocacy correspondent Penny Tilton.* According to her report, Shannon Keith, president of LA non-profit Animal Rescue, Media & Education (ARME), ran into trouble Monday with the folks at KTLA Morning News when she showed up with a pit bull for a scheduled on-air segment about animal adoption. It may seem well within the station’s rights to tell a guest that only the (other) non-pit bull dog could be admitted into the studio. But Keith argues it’s against the law and is now asking people to send in protest emails and boycott the program:

Prior to the show, ARME disclosed a full description of the dogs to be aired. “When we arrived, one of the show producers came out, looked at Franklyn and said, “Oh no. We have an anti-pit bull policy,” Keith said. “I calmly told her that we were not informed of this, and had we been, we would have cancelled our appearance as breed discrimination is not something I tolerate, and more so, is against public policy.”

Keith says she waited for a half-hour while producer Nancy Cruz consulted with others before confirming the decision. Read the full examiner.com report here.*

*Update – 11/14/12: The above-referenced article was removed yesterday from examiner.com. And on today’s edition of the KTLA Morning News, which frequently does animal adoption segments, there was a pit bull featured.

Update – 11/14/12: Keith has issued the following statement:

As most of you know, last Monday ARME was scheduled to appear on KTLA. Prior to airing, the producers contacted our publicists to ask what kind of dogs we were bringing that day. Our publicists responded that we were bringing an America Staffordshire Terrier (aka “Pit Bull”) and Shepherd/Lab mix.

When we arrived, a woman exited the building and introduced herself to us as the producer. She looked at our “Pit Bull” named Franklyn, and said he would not be allowed on the program because KTLA has an anti-“Pit Bull” policy. She said that the other dog, Gideon, however was welcome on the show. I explained to her that:

(a) the producers knew which dogs we were bringing ahead of time,
(b) it is against public policy to discriminate based on breed, and
(c) that if Franklyn was not allowed on air, we would all leave.

She said she would go back inside and ask the “other” producers and get back to us. She advised us that we were not allowed in the building and would have to stand outside. No chairs were even offered to us as we stood in 45-degree weather outside the building. Almost 45 minutes later, she came back out and stated that she had spoken with the other producers and that they had in fact verified that they had a no “Pit Bull” policy and that we would not be allowed on the show.

Later that day, three different producers contacted my publicists and myself. The first producer confirmed the policy existed and asked us to take the complaint off of our Facebook page.

The second producer was extremely rude, yelled at us, threatened us, and then made up a story that they did not want any more “Pit Bulls” on the show because they had too many on the show in the past.

The third producer called me to also attempt to explain this new story that they had somehow contrived that they had too many “Pit Bulls” on and that is why we were excluded. I then stated, “If that is in fact the case, all we want is for you to issue an apology and let everyone know that you DO NOT have an anti-Pit Bull policy and allow Franklyn on the show. If you do that, we will take down our post.” Her reply was that she absolutely would NOT do that. When I asked her why, if in fact, they had no such policy, she simply stated she would not.

Late last night, in a clear act of desperation, we heard that KTLA was going to have an organization called Best Friends Los Angeles on this morning’s broadcast and would have them bring a “Pit Bull” on the air.

While we applaud their audacity in this clearly crafted media stunt, this does not answer the question as to why they REFUSE to post publicly or even speak to me directly to tell me that (a) they apologize for the incident, and (b) they do not have this policy and (c) invite us with Franklyn on the air and welcome future “Pit Bulls” in need.

Those at KTLA continue to call and attempt to bully us, calling me all kinds of names an making false accusations when all we asked for from the beginning was simple: treat “Pit Bulls” like all other dogs and do not discriminate.

I have maintained my social graces and professionalism during this ordeal despite being treated horribly and yelled at and threatened.

Their pathetic media stunt this morning is NOT a statement that KTLA will allow this wonderful breed on the air in the future, nor is it an apology to Franklyn and his foster dad who drove an hour to be there, so Franklyn, who has been in foster for 6 months, might have a chance at finally finding his forever home.

We know that KTLA is reading our posts and I know that KTLA is specifically looking at my page.

To KTLA: since you refuse to have a decent conversation with me on the phone, I again reiterate, for probably the 20th time to you: All we want is a public apology and statement that you do not discriminate and an invitation back on the show with Franklyn. If you really do not have such a policy, why has it been so difficult for you to do this?

We at ARME look forward to a speedy resolution to this unfortunate matter and hope that, besides educating KTLA, that we have at least brought the breed-discrimination issue to light and have instigated a healthy conversation about breed prejudice.

We await KTLA’s response in making the right decision.

On behalf of those who cannot speak,

Shannon Keith
Attorney at Law
President, ARME & BEAGLE FREEDOM PROJECT