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Rep. Waters Meets with CBS to Discuss Media Diversity & Inclusion

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — The meeting followed CBS’ announcement of its 2020 presidential election coverage team, which was made up of eight reporters and four associate producers – none of whom were African American.

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Rep. Maxine Waters meets with CBS Vice President of News and Executive Director of Staff Development and Diversity, Kim Goodwin, and CBS Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, Christopher Isham, on Capitol Hill. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Waters Office)

By Sentinel News Service

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement on her meeting with CBS Vice President of News and Executive Director of Staff Development and Diversity, Kim Goodwin, and CBS Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, Christopher Isham.

The meeting followed CBS’ announcement of its 2020 presidential election coverage team, which was made up of eight reporters and four associate producers – none of whom were African American. The CBS staffing announcement was met with widespread criticism from journalists, civil rights leaders, and members of Congress – including Congresswoman Waters.

“Within 24 hours of my Twitter request for an explanation as to why CBS Corporation has, to date, failed to hire a single African American reporter or producer to cover the 2020 presidential election, CBS Vice President of News and Executive Director of Staff Development and Diversity, Kim Goodwin, and CBS Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, Christopher Isham, requested a meeting and spoke with me in my office on Capitol Hill.

“The CBS representatives accepted full responsibility and understood the troubling optics– and subsequent public backlash — that occurred as a result of the rollout of their 2020 presidential election team. CBS admitted that the initial 2020 campaign team did not reflect the diversity that the company had committed to; assured me that it will not happen again; and revealed that in the coming months they will unveil a more diverse and inclusive slate of African American journalists and journalists from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. They also identified key individuals in Washington, D.C. and New York City, NY whom they have brought onto their team to fulfill this mission and ensure their news organization reflects the diversity of the country and the communities who will most certainly be engaged in the 2020 elections.

“I will hold CBS accountable to their diversity and inclusion commitments. In addition, I will work with my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus for continued engagement and follow up on diversity and inclusion at CBS and all that they have agreed to.”

Throughout her career in public service, Congresswoman Waters has been a leading advocate for diversity and inclusion in the media. Her years-long efforts during the Comcast-NBC Universal merger review — which included holding congressional hearings, urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to extend the public comment period, filing comments on behalf of independent minority producers, directors, and writers, and leading the congressional efforts to ensure that the terms of the merger included voluntary commitments and proposals for media diversity – led to the creation of four independently minority-owned channels: Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Revolt, Magic Johnson’s Aspire, Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey, and Constantino “Said” Schwarz’s BabyFirst Americas television networks.

As a result of her legislative efforts and commitment to media diversity and inclusion, Congresswoman Waters has been recognized by many of the nation’s leading media organizations and coalitions for journalists and communities of color, including the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC).

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Debra Sova

    Debra Sova

    January 22, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Ya like her district…ALL ARE POOR OR HOMELESS..
    now that diversity

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Gunshot Medley Brings Black Theatre to the Electric Lodge

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — “Gunshot Medley: Part I” is the latest play to hit the stage at the Electric Lodge on Abbot Kinney Boulevard near Venice Beach. Running until August 19, the play tells the story of American history through the eyes of three slaves.

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Donathan Walters (left) as George, Mildred Langford (middle) as Betty, and Sha’Leah Nikole Stubblefield (right) as High Priestess in Gunshot Medley: Part 1. (Photo Credit: Cristian Kreckler)
Donathan Walters (left) as George, Mildred Langford (middle) as Betty, and Sha’Leah Nikole Stubblefield (right) as High Priestess in Gunshot Medley: Part 1. (Photo Credit: Cristian Kreckler)

A play with a Black cast, director, and playwright tells a story of pain, racism, and hope at the Electric Lodge.

By Shaquille Woods

“Gunshot Medley: Part I” is the latest play to hit the stage at the Electric Lodge on Abbot Kinney Boulevard near Venice Beach. Running until August 19, the play tells the story of American history through the eyes of three slaves.

The playwright, Dionna Michelle Daniel, was inspired to write this play in 2015, after the Charleston Church shooting. While in North Carolina, she visited a graveyard where she found the graves of Betty, Alvis, and George who would eventually become the characters for “Gunshot Medley: Part I.” All that was left on the graves were their names and the dates that they died, each before the Emancipation Proclamation. Daniel also found something unsettling in the graveyard — newly placed Confederate flags.

“At the time that I wrote ‘Gunshot Medley,’ there was so much going on with killings and discourse over the Confederate flag,” said Daniel. “For me the play is an awakening. It is so vital for Black people to tell our stories because we have lived through these experiences and the pain is real.”

Set in a haunted graveyard in North Carolina, audiences see the connections of racism through past and present. Betty, Alvis, and George are not able to rest their souls. They want to believe that things are better, and cover up the pain, but what they see in the present takes them back to their own past hurt. They see happy moments in Black culture as well, referencing famous songs and dances, but they are reminded of pain with each gunshot that they hear.

Sha’Leah Nikole Stubblefield (left) as High Preistess looks on as Derek Jackson (middle) and Mildred Langford (right) dance as Alvis and Betty in Gunshot Medley: Part 1. (Photo Credit: Cristian Krekcler)

Sha’Leah Nikole Stubblefield (left) as High Preistess looks on as Derek Jackson (middle) and Mildred Langford (right) dance as Alvis and Betty in Gunshot Medley: Part 1. (Photo Credit: Cristian Krekcler)

Betty represents a mother figure, constantly cleaning to cover up her pain. Alvis takes on a more playful role, looking for the beauty in everything, and George represents revolutionaries fighting and dying for change. The fourth character is High Priestess Oya. When Daniel originally wrote the play, she made a lot of reference to the wind and the rustle of leaves and treetops. One of her friends told her about Orisha Oya, an African goddess who is the ruler of storms and winds, and the protector of cemeteries.  From that comes the majestic character garbed in elegant reds and an expression of pain upon her face.

“The play was very powerful and moving,” said Tenille Jones, one of the audience members. “I think that it will open people’s eyes and make change for the better. I like how the main character, Betty, thought that she had to clean something up to solve the problems, but in the end, it showed that racism is more of a comprehensive problem. It’s not just a one-person problem, it’s a worldwide problem. I was very entertained. It’s a great way to spend an hour and support Black theatre.”

“Gunshot Medley: Part I” started as a project for a program at California Institute of the Arts, or CalArts, where Daniel graduated. She presented it in their 2016 New Works Festival and won the chance to go to New York to have a reading of the play and get it published. One of the readers from New York put Daniel in contact with Desean Terry of Collaborative Artists Bloc, a production team that produces performances that explore of cultural identity and promote social change. Terry became the director of “Gunshot Medley: Part I,” giving the play a Black cast, Black director, and Black playwright.

In 2018, Rogue Machine Theatre joined in and brought the production to the stage at the MET Theatre in Santa Monica for a two-week run. “Gun Shot Medley: Part I” also did a two-week run at the Watts Village Theater Company, where tickets were based on a donation of any amount and audience members could register to vote. Rogue Machine Theatre has brought the play back this year to the Electric Lodge. “Gunshot Medley: Part I” runs through August 19. Student tickets are $25.99 and general admission is $39.99. For more information and reservations, call (855) 585-5185 or visit www.collaborativeartistsbloc.org.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Grizzlies make Niele Ivey NBA’s 9th female assistant coach

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — The Memphis Grizzlies have hired former Notre Dame women’s associate head coach Niele (knee-L) Ivey among the new assistants on Taylor Jenkins’ staff. There are now nine women coaches in the NBA.

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Niele Ivey is now an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. Photo: Notre Dame Athletics)

By Los Angeles Sentinel

The Memphis Grizzlies have hired former Notre Dame women’s associate head coach Niele (knee-L) Ivey among the new assistants on Taylor Jenkins’ staff.

There are now nine women coaches in the NBA.

The Grizzlies also announced Monday the hiring of Brad Jones, David McClure, James “Scoonie” Penn, Vitaly Potapenko and Neven Spahija.

Jenkins says he’s thrilled to work with an experienced group of coaches with success at all levels as both players and coaches.

Ivey spent the past 12 seasons at her alma mater with the last four as Notre Dame’s associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. She helped the Fighting Irish go 385-55 with seven Final Four berths, six appearances in the NCAA title game and the 2018 national championship.

Notre Dame congratulated Ivey on Twitter, saying the Grizzlies hired a good one.

Ivey played in two Final Fours with Notre Dame, including winning the 2001 national championship. She played five seasons in the WNBA before starting her coaching career as an administrative assistant at Xavier in 2005.

Jenkins kept Potapenko (po-TAH-pen-ko) who was an assistant with the Grizzlies last season. He also has worked for Cleveland and Indiana in the NBA and in the G League. Jones was head coach of Memphis’ G League team last season and also spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz.

McClure, who played at Duke, spent the past three seasons as assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers and started his coaching career in 2014 as a player development quality assurance assistant for the Spurs. Penn spent the past two seasons as director of player development at Ohio State. Spahija was an assistant with Jenkins in Atlanta between 2014 and 2017.

The Grizzlies also named Jason March head coach of their G League team.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory Offers Free Music Lessons for Youth

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — It’s no secret that when it comes to under-resourced communities in predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods, arts and music education is usually lacking. But the program director of the Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory & Youth Symphony, Billy Mitchell, says it’s not because the programs don’t exist.

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Students 6-18 can take free lessons at the Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory. (Photo courtesy of WWC)

By Lauren Floyd

It’s no secret that when it comes to under-resourced communities in predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods, arts and music education is usually lacking. But the program director of the Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory & Youth Symphony, Billy Mitchell, says it’s not because the programs don’t exist.

“The problem with under resourced areas is that they very seldom get information on all the opportunities that are out there,” says Mitchell. “There are college scholarships and grants and all kinds of things available.”

One of those programs you should know about in the South Central L.A., Watts and Compton area, is the Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory, or WWC, which is now preparing for its tenth year of providing free music classes to youth, ages 6-18.

WWC was established in early 2010 at the Watts-Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club in partnership with the Scholarship Performance Preparatory Academy, also known as SAPPA. The program offers high quality music education and exposure into the world of arts which builds self-esteem, discipline and creativity amongst its youth participants.

“We stress learning music correctly at a very early age so you can create any music you want not only creatively, but effectively,” says Mitchell, a self-taught pianist who has had an affinity for music since childhood. Growing up with that natural inclination for music meant that Mitchell says he, like many students, struggled with the technical aspect of practicing and taking lessons.

“I totally get it, I understand why young people are resistant [of music lessons] and why this is kind of difficult. I did the same thing. But later, as I got back into music, I found myself in a professional setting, and I wasn’t prepared.”

WWC Youth Symphony performs at their mid-year recital 2019. (Photo courtesy of WWC.)

WWC Youth Symphony performs at their mid-year recital 2019. (Photo courtesy of WWC.)

Mitchell went back to school to get professionally trained which he says was much more difficult as an adult. Now, Mitchell has instilled this lesson he learned in his outreach to youth.“It’s so important to learn music as a child. So, I brought that message to young people because once you got it as a child…you got it,” says Mitchell.

“I have been judging music competitions for years and I am always disappointed that a lot of my inner-city students, who I know are qualified and talented, are not showing up. And when they do show up, they are not operating at the level that I would expect them to, and the level that I know they can operate at, because they’ve never had the exposure to these kinds of programs.”

The students of WWC are being prepared to reverse these types of disparities in music. Participants attend one hour classes after school, twice a week. They learn to read music and play symphonic string instruments — violin, viola, cello and bass. These satellite programs are designed to be the network that forms the core of the Watts-Willowbrook Youth Symphony, made up of young people from the South Central L.A. and the Watts/Compton communities. Classes are offered at three locations in the Watts/Compton area, including the WLCAC campus on Central Avenue. Classes are completely free with the exception of a $10 registration fee.

Registration for the WWC Fall 2019 session begins Sept. 10. (Photo courtesy of WWC.)

Registration for the WWC Fall 2019 session begins Sept. 10. (Photo courtesy of WWC.)

The WWC program is free through the sponsorship and support of The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Ayrshire Foundation, California Community Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Southern California Edison, The Colburn Foundation, The California Arts Council and the Jerry & Terri Kohl Foundation. Still, Mitchell says as with most inner-city music programs, funding remains a continuous need for WWC.

“We’ve been very fortunate from corporate funding, but we haven’t been so fortunate with community funding which has been an issue with me,” says Mitchell. He doesn’t know why exactly that is, but he says its troubling to see so much funding and attention from celebrities and public figures, being invested elsewhere, while the communities they came from are still struggling.

Regardless, the goal of the program remains focused on enriching the youth of South L.A., Watts and Compton with music.

“My goal is to make sure our kids learn music correctly so that they can have control of their careers and control of their lives. I don’t want my hip-hop artists to go into a studio and the engineer has to tell them that there are three beats there, or four beats there,” says Mitchell.

“In any genre we represent, I want us to know all the technical aspects of it so we can control it.”

WWC’s Fall 2019 session begins September 10. Registration and orientation will take place Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 5PM in the City of Los Angeles “Old Library Building”’ at 1501 E 103rdSt., Los Angeles, CA 90002. Applications are available online at www.sappa.net and you can learn more about WWC at wattswillowbrookconservatory.com.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Ex-UCLA Employee Awarded Nearly $1.6M in Harassment Suit

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — A Black former UCLA phlebotomist who said she was subjected to racial harassment that included use of the N-word was awarded nearly $1.6 million in damages by a jury.

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Royce Hall, UCLA (Photo by: Wiki Commons)
By City News Service

A Black former UCLA phlebotomist who said she was subjected to racial harassment that included use of the N-word was awarded nearly $1.6 million in damages by a jury.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury rejected Nicole Birden’s claim that she was fired in 2016 due to her race, but the panel determined she was subjected to severe or pervasive harassment because she is black and that her supervisors failed to take corrective actions.

The jury awarded the 48-year-old Birden $500,000 for past emotional distress and mental harm, $800,000 for future emotional distress and mental harm, more than $190,000 for past economic loss and more than $86,000 for future economic loss.

“We are thankful that a diverse Los Angeles jury could come together and give Ms. Birden the justice she deserved after a hard-fought jury trial,” Birden’s attorney, V. James DeSimone, said.

Lawyer Stephen Ronk, on behalf of the UC Board of Regents, argued during the trial that Birden was fired because of a “clear pattern of performance issues.”

UCLA Health issued a statement Tuesday saying it was disappointed in the verdict and reviewing its legal options.

“UCLA Health is committed to maintaining a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation of any kind,” according to UCLA Health. “Ensuring a respectful and inclusive environment is essential to the university’s mission, and employees are encouraged to report any concerns so that they can be reviewed and appropriately addressed consistent with UCLA and University of California policies.”

According to her lawsuit, filed in May 2017, Birden began working at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica’s clinical laboratory in 2015 and was employed on a per diem basis. She was one of about five or six black employees in a mostly Latino department, according to the suit.

According to her complaint, one of Birden’s Latino co-workers used the N-word in her presence by calling her “my n—a.” The language bothered Birden, as did his playing of rap music in which singers used the offensive term, according to the suit, which alleges that other Latino employees called her “lazy,” “dark woman” and “liar” in Spanish.

In addition, some co-workers called Birden “the Black girl with the attitude,” DeSimone told the jury.

“There was a culture of discrimination and harassment unfortunately at the lab,” DeSimone alleged.

Birden was a dedicated worker who drew blood from as many as seven patients an hour, DeSimone said of his client, a single mother of a 28-year-old and 21-year-old twins.

“She was good at her job, she loved her job,” DeSimone said.

He said Birden made numerous reports to management about her alleged mistreatment, but “her complaints fell on deaf ears.”

Birden has suffered financial losses as well as emotional distress, DeSimone said. She now works for Kaiser Permanente, but has fewer benefits, he said.

Ronk told jurors during the trial that Birden never said in her initial complaints to management that she believed she was being treated different because she is Black.

“All of that came after the fact,” Ronk said.

Ronk said it is crucial that phlebotomists immediately answer calls from dispatchers to draw blood from patients because, depending on the situation, it can be a matter of life and death. Some of those dispatchers complained that Birden would “disappear for long periods during her shift,” according to the defense’s court papers.

“The number one goal is to make sure patient care comes first and foremost,” Ronk said.

Birden had a “clear pattern of performance issues” and “none of it had to do with race,” he said.

Birden described the co-worker who allegedly used the N-word “a good guy,” Ronk said.

“He wasn’t doing it to try and offend somebody,” Ronk said.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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L.A. Council Members Smith, Wesson Call on Legislators to Act on Gun Control

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — Two Los Angeles City Council members – ironically named Smith and Wesson — introduced a resolution today calling on state and federal lawmakers to pass gun-control legislation such as banning the sale and possession of assault weapons.

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Photo by: Somchai Kongkamsri | pexels.com

By City News Wire

Two Los Angeles City Council members – ironically named Smith and Wesson — introduced a resolution today calling on state and federal lawmakers to pass gun-control legislation such as banning the sale and possession of assault weapons.

City Council President Herb Wesson (File photo)

City Council President Herb Wesson (File photo)

“Communities and families across America are grieving over the horrible shootings that struck El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this weekend, less than a week after a shooting in Gilroy,” Councilman Greig Smith said.

“Claims that nothing can be done to stop this violence are not borne out by the facts. Not taking action is a choice that condemns yet more families and communities to endure the heartbreak and tragedy of the next mass shooting.”

The resolution, introduced by Smith and Council President Herb Wesson, demands that legislators ban the sale, possession and use of any assault weapon, as well as materials to modify weapons to make them semi-automatic.

Such items were used in the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, when nearly 60 people were killed while attending a country music festival.

“The gun violence epidemic in our country is not normal and it’s not something we in Los Angeles will accept as we stand idly by,” Wesson said. “In just over a week, we’ve been shaken by three tragic mass shootings which have made it clear that nowhere is truly safe in a country that allows these weapons of war to be sold and carried on our streets. This resolution is our message to our state and federal legislators: We need meaningful reform on gun control now.”

Councilman Greig Smith (File photo)

Councilman Greig Smith (File photo)

The resolution also demands federal and state laws be passed to set minimum standards requiring social media administrators to remove or block hate speech on their platforms. Mass shooters in the last week all had been in some way influenced by hate speech and ideologies catered by people through social media networks.

According to the councilmen, there are “concrete examples” of gun- control legislation that can be adopted, ones that polling indicates have majority support.

Meanwhile, City Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion that would ban possession of all assault weapons within Los Angeles. That motion will be reviewed by the council’s Public Safety Committee.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

 

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L.A. County Adopts ‘Socially Conscious’ Animal Shelter Practices

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — Animal rights activists praised Los Angeles County’s decision to adopt “socially conscious” operating practices for its animal shelter, warning that alternative “no-kill” policies often result in unsafe, overcrowded facilities and dangerous dogs on the street.

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Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

By Sentinel News Wire

Animal rights activists praised Los Angeles County’s decision to adopt “socially conscious” operating practices for its animal shelter, warning that alternative “no-kill” policies often result in unsafe, overcrowded facilities and dangerous dogs on the street.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger asked for an update on the new practices at the Department of Animal Care and Control. A report back is expected in 90 days.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals representative Lisa Lange said the DACC has emphasized spay and neuter policies to help reduce the population of stray and homeless animals, rather than emulating no-kill shelters that turn sick and dangerous animals away to maintain favorable statistics.

“We all want to see an end to the homeless animal crisis, but the way to get there is not by closing our shelter doors and turning animals away for a meaningless save rate,” Lange told the board. “This policy will help animals on a huge level.”

PETA representative Diana Mendoza called the newly adopted practices “a smart, compassionate, level-headed model that has the power to bring the community together. Instead of reducing animals to statistics the way the no-kill movement does, socially conscious sheltering puts the animals’ interests firmly in focus along with what is best for the community.”

The DACC said many no-kill practices require agencies to refuse admission to animals that aren’t adoptable and also overcrowd shelters, increasing the risk of disease.

Some release dangerous dogs for adoption to meet live release goals, according to the DACC and PETA.

The PETA website details dozens of instances of hoarding animals or sickly or dangerous dogs approved for adoption.

“It’s time for the truth that not all animals, just like not all people, are loving, trainable and safe,” said Phyllis Daugherty of the Animal Issues Movement.

Socially conscious sheltering originated in Colorado. Its goals are to ensure every unwanted or homeless pet has a safe place to go for shelter and care and to make every healthy and safe animal available for adoption.

In line with those practices, the DACC will not offer animals for adoption that are dangerous or “irremediably suffering.” And it will compassionately euthanize animals in severe, unremitting pain or suffering from other serious health challenges.

The DACC transferred 7,763 animals to low-intake animal shelters around the country last year in an effort to maximize adoption rates for healthy, safe pets. Here at home, it assesses potential adopters to make suitable matches and provides post-adoption support to ensure good outcomes.

The Long Beach City Council is deciding whether to adopt a no-kill policy for its shelter and in April heard from advocates on both sides of the issue who claimed to share the same goal of saving treatable animals and “putting down” animals when necessary due to injury or illness.

No kill advocates say they save more lives, while those against no kill policies say Long Beach would have to end its open admissions policy, ABC7 reported. The matter is expected to come back before the council this month.

A PETA shelter in Norfolk, Virginia came under scrutiny in 2015 for the 80 percent rate of euthanization in its shelter there, leading state lawmakers to pass a bill changing the definition of an animal shelter. But PETA staffers said they end up caring for animals turned away by other shelters. Many owners of elderly or suffering pets also turn to PETA when they cannot afford to pay the veterinarian’s fee for euthanasia, the animal rights organization told the Washington Post.

A blog post from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk states, “It’s easy to point the finger at those who are forced to do the ‘dirty work’ caused by a throwaway society’s casual acquisition and breeding of dogs and cats who end up homeless and unwanted, but at PETA, we will never turn our backs on neglected, unloved and homeless animals — even if the best we can offer them is a painless release from a world that doesn’t have enough heart or homes with room for them.”

The DACC’s live release rate for dogs is 88 percent and it finds homes for roughly half of the cats that come into its shelters, nearly double the rate for felines five years ago.

“Through collaboration with strategic partners, especially the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), DACC has been abcle to greatly improve outcomes for animals in its care,” DACC Director Marcia Mayeda said. “We are committed to continuing our efforts through socially conscious animal sheltering to save animals’ lives and protect our communities.”

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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