MAIN STREET — Some residents are calling for a ban on pony rides and petting zoos in the city by the sea. No, this is not the Daily Press’ April Fools’ Day edition.

A child rides a pony at the Sunday Main Street Farmers’ Market. Some want to ban it. (Photo courtesy blocksnap.com)

Marcy Winograd, a resident and former congressional candidate, says that keeping the ponies tethered to a turnstile and forcing them to ride in circles is cruel and inhumane.

“We do not want to pray on the most vulnerable population, children, by teaching them that it’s OK to abuse animals,” she said. “I’m sorry but when you have ponies walking for hours around in circles, tethered to a pole, next to loud music and lots of commotion, that, in my opinion, is abuse.”

Placed on MoveOn.org on Sunday, the petition already garnered more than 120 digital signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

For Winograd, the push to halt pony rides comes partially as a result of recently introduced legislature to end whale shows in California.

Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) announced the bill last month in the wake of the popular documentary “Blackfish,” which details the alleged poor treatment of orcas at SeaWorld.

“The time was right,” Winograd said. “This is in the forefront in the minds of people from Santa Monica. I’m really very pleased that he’s introduced that legislation. I think it will attract attention to the need to recognize the rights of animals and to end animal abuse.”

She hopes to bring Bloom on board though she has yet to reach out to him because the petition is still in the grassroots stage.

Tawni Angel, of Tawni’s Ponies, which operates regularly at the Main Street Farmers’ Market, did not respond to requests for comment.

Farmers’ Market officials plan to have a response to the petition later this week, said supervisor Laura Avery.

“Tawni has been at this for many years and has a lot of experience,” Avery said.

One group offered pony rides at the Brentwood Country Mart, which falls under Santa Monica’s jurisdiction, until about two years ago, said Josh Weisman, an asset manager at JS Rosenfield, which owns the country mart.

“We got rid of it because it was taking up too much parking,” he said. “It wasn’t a political decision. We still get calls about it. Some people were sad that it’s gone, but our restaurants needed the parking space.”

Winograd, who is “working toward becoming a vegetarian,” says that for Santa Monica to ban the exploitation of animals is a no-brainer. She has not yet reached out to city officials because she is waiting for the support to grow.

“The fact that there are many of us that find it repugnant should resonate with City Hall,” she said. “We have a beautiful city. We have a green city. We have a city that has embraced the Sustainability Bill of Rights which recognizes the rights of nature. Animals are part of nature. They have some rights.”

Santa Monica is no stranger to bans involving animals. In 2009 the City Council banned the controversial veterinary procedure of clipping the claws of cats. Proponents argued that declawing is not only physically painful, but leaves cats more vulnerable to abandonment and relinquishment because of the behavioral changes that take place following the procedure, including urinating and defecating outside of litter boxes and biting because clawing is no longer a viable defense mechanism.

 

dave@www.smdp.com

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