LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Following accusations from an animal rights group about the health and welfare of horses used to ride pony in Griffith Park, two Los Angeles City Council members submitted a motion today to have the Department of Recreation and Parks report on the results of a third-party evaluation of the facility.
“Over the past few months, the city has received numerous concerns regarding horse health and welfare at the Griffith Park Pony Ride facility,” said the proposal, which was co-sponsored by Councilman Paul Kuritz and Councilman Nithya Raman.
Griffith Park is located in Raman District.
According to council members, the Department of Parks and Animal Services have gone to the facility several times for inspections and found no irregularities. However, the Los Angeles Animal Alliance organized small protests outside the facility and claimed that the horses were overworked and that one had problems walking.
The Department of Recreation and Parks will have a third-party equestrian expert who will assess the facility and report to the Board on its policies and practices to ensure the horses are well looked after.
Stephen Weeks, president of Griffith Park Pony Rides, said in a letter sent to Raman on Wednesday that the Los Angeles Alliance for Animals is falsely claiming ponies are overworked.
“All our ponies and farm animals are under the care of a licensed vet and are up to date on all required medical shots and vaccinations. We are regularly inspected by the City and County of Los Angeles to ensure the safe and humane treatment of each animal,” the group’s website states.
The LAAA claims that animal welfare laws are consistently ignored by the pony ride operator and are not enforced by Parks and Recreation, Los Angeles Animal Services, or the Los Angeles Police Department.
“The pony-riding franchise is animal cruelty disguised as children’s entertainment. The group says that unkind treatment of animals is not in line with Los Angeles values, noting that in recent years Los Angeles has issued a fur ban, a ban on bull tying, and a ban on the use of wild animals at private parties.
Raman’s proposal, if approved by the city council, would direct the parks department to make recommendations on changes needed to the process to ensure the health and welfare of the horses, possible changes to the concession agreement or consideration of a new concession agreement, or to establish benchmarks for researching how similar cities handle the use of horses for recreation and changes and improvements to the inspection process administered by the department.
It also directs the Department of Animal Services to report to the City Council on a detailed description of the annual permit inspection of the concessionaire, the protocols and procedures for animal inspections that arise when a complaint is made and any recommendations for improvements to these inspections to ensure the health and welfare of the horses in Griffith Park.