Following accusations from an animal rights group about the health and well-being of horses used for pony rides at Griffith Park, two Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion Wednesday to have the Department of Recreation and Parks report on the findings of a third-party assessment of the facility.
“Over the last few months, the city has received numerous concerns regarding the health and well-being of the horses at the Griffith Park Pony Ride Facility,” stated the motion, co-introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz and Councilwoman Nithya Raman.
Griffith Park is in Raman’s district.
According to the council members, the parks department and the Department of Animal Services have gone multiple times to the facility for inspections and have not found violations. However, the Los Angeles Alliance for Animals has staged small protests outside the facility and alleges that horses are overworked and that one is suffering from gait issues.
The Department of Recreation and Parks will have a third-party equestrian expert assess the facility and report to the council on its policies and practices to ensure the horses are being well cared for.
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 alleging that the ponies are overworked.
“All of our ponies and farm animals are under the direct care of a licensed veterinarian and are up-to-date on all of their required medical shots and inoculations. We are regularly inspected by the city and county of Los Angeles to assure the safe and humane treatment of every animal,” the group’s website states.
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 rides concession is animal cruelty disguised as child entertainment. Unkind treatment of animals doesn’t align with Los Angeles values,” the group says, noting that in recent years Los Angeles has passed a fur ban, a bull hook ban, and a ban on the use of wild animals in private parties.
Raman’s motion, if approved by the City Council, would direct the parks department to provide recommendations on necessary changes to the operation to ensure the health and well being of the horses, potential changes to the concession agreement or consideration of a new concession agreement, benchmarking research on how comparable cities deal with the use of horses for entertainment and changes and improvements to the inspection process administered by the department.
It would also direct the Department of Animal Services to report back to the City Council on a detailed description of the process of annual inspections for the concessionaire’s annual permit, the protocols and procedures for animal control inspections that arise when a complaint is filed and any recommendations for improvements to these inspections to ensure the health and well-being of the horses at Griffith Park.