"Hooters for Neuters" is a no go

L.A.'s animal services agency decides that just because the name of a fundraiser rhymes doesn't mean it's necessarily a good idea.

Published June 28, 2006 5:17PM (EDT)

Turns out the Los Angeles animal services agency will not be teaming up for a fundraiser with a local Hooters after all. The event, planned for July and canceled this week, was not, as you might have assumed, an effort to Save the Owls. Rather, it was a bikini contest -- Hooters' idea, apparently -- aimed at raising money for area spay and neuter programs, with the also-worthy longer-term goal of reducing the number of animals euthanized in the city's shelters. But "as word of the event spread ... in City Hall, the reaction was swift and nearly unanimous: [agency head Ed] Boks was participating in a spectacularly bad idea," reports the Los Angeles Times, which also printed a swiftly yanked mostly-cleavage version of a poster for the contest, as well as its more discreet replacement. "Not surprisingly, the event quickly raised ire among animal activists and elected officials who believed that the government's domain doesn't extend to judging the relative merits of swimsuit babes."

It does seem a shame to look a gift fundraiser in the mouth, I know, especially one with such an excellently rhyming title. After all, the kitties and puppies don't care where the money comes from. And props to Hooters, I suppose, at least for offering -- if you're going to shill, you might as well save the planet while you're at it (though I'm guessing they won't be organizing to Save the Buffalo Wings anytime soon).

Still, what bugs me about Hooters and a city government agency planning to team up for this contest is precisely what bugs me about Hooters: the restaurant chain's feigned-innocent "What boobs?" positioning as a mainstream "family" -- Fido and all -- establishment. That -- arguably, far more than no-excuses XXX porn -- serves to sensitize people to the notion that judging women by their chests is normal, if not something you do over dinner, or in fact while saving the strays. Perhaps the animals would be better served by a more creative fundraising team, and Hooters could take up its own can-at-the-cash-register collections for the causes it cares about.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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