Several city officials on Tuesday sharply criticized a planned bikini contest to raise money for spaying pets, saying the"Hooters for Neuters"event was degrading to women.

Hosted by the Hooters restaurant chain, the July 13 fundraiser will donate money to the spay and neuter programs at Los Angeles Animal Services.

"Are we going backward here?"said City Controller Laura Chick."We are a city with all kinds of progressive programs that empower women and end discrimination in the workplace, and now we're being connected with a Hooters bikini contest. It isn't right."

Councilwoman Jan Perry said the department's attempt to be creative in telling pet owners to sterilize their animals"crosses the line."

"I was surprised and amazed with the photograph on the flier, and I don't think it projects a good image for the city of Los Angeles,"Perry said.

Animal Services Director Ed Boks apologized for making people upset, but said the"Charity Benefit Bikini Contest"would go on as scheduled.

"These people have gone out of their way in helping us, and I would hate to deny these businesses from helping to save the lives of animals in our shelters,"Boks said.

Boks promised a more rigorous vetting process for future fundraisers.

The fundraiser is not city-sponsored, but a promoting flier is posted on the Animal Services Web site.

The original flier showed a bikini-clad woman, but the latest version shows a dog wearing a T-shirt that says"Hooters for Neuters."

Boks said that the owners of Hooters approached him about the fundraiser a month ago. He said the ads were made without consulting the department.

"When somebody steps up and says they want to help your agency raise money, your inclination is to say `Yes,'"Boks said."But, we probably won't be involved in any future bikini contests."

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