A group of animal rights activists is once again raising concerns about the horses kept for pony rides at Griffith Park, complaining that the animals are forced to work even when temperatures soar into the 90s.
Los Angeles Alliance for Animals plans a demonstration at the park Sunday to demand that the city of Los Angeles cancel the contract of the concessionaire and pass an ordinance banning pony rides.
The group has railed against the pony-ride operation for months, holding regular demonstrations at the park. Activists noted that horse rides continued Saturday, when the high reached 93 degrees at Griffith Park.
“In a city that prides itself on the highest standards of animal welfare, we must immediately end animal abuse when we witness it. Which is why we have protested for months to bring light to the suffering of the animals at this park,” an LAAA statement said.
“For the first time in over 70 years, Los Angeles Alliance for Animals has become the voice of the neglected and abused animals at this park, and we will never go away. We will maintain our weekly protest bringing awareness to the plight and suffering of the animals at this park,” the statement continued.
Representatives for Griffith Park Pony Rides could not be reached for comment on Saturday, but the company has told City News Service in the past that its horses are “well cared for, respected and loved.”
“Let’s all remember, horses are not like dogs and cats,” GPPR owner Stephen Weeks said after LAAS complained about horses being left in the rain last December. “For thousands of years horses have lived outside in both rain and shine. Horses are healthier outside in their natural element. They are herd animals. The Griffith Park Ponies have adapted to living in an outdoor environment for many years, and are very healthy.”
Late last year, two Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion to have the Department of Recreation and Parks report on the findings of a third-party assessment of the facility, after complaints from LAAA.
“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.
The Department of Recreation and Parks was directed to 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.
Weeks said in a letter sent to Raman that the activists are 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.