LA Progressive

USDA Report Reveals Feces, Flies, Vermin in Santa Monica Pony Ride Facility

I am a resident of Santa Monica who has been involved in numerous grassroots animal welfare investigations over the past 10 years. I am writing today to express my sincere appreciation for the City Council’s decision to end the closed bidding process that allowed animal exhibitors to monopolize the entrance to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.

Pony rides are inherently cruel when animals are lashed to metal bars, forced to march on concrete in the Southern California heat, and subjected to the constant clamor and motion of the Farmer’s Market. For the exotic animals confined in the roadside “zoo”, it’s even worse.

And there is no respite for those animals at the end of the day.

Animal exhibitors are required to undergo regular inspections by the USDA, and these inspection reports are a matter of public record. The most recent inspection report for Tawni’s Ponies and Petting Farm (the vendor currently under contract) reveals multiple violations of animal welfare and public health regulations:

  • Failure to clean transport trailer
  • Improper disposal of feces
  • Feces allowed to accumulate to the point where no space in the enclosure was free of excreta
  • Insects and rodents in barn
  • Dirty bedding
  • Facilities poorly maintained
  • Horses endangered by rusty metal and other hazards
  • Failure to maintain required records

The USDA report clearly disproves Ms. Angel’s claims that “every pony and animal on my farm have the highest standard of living conditions.” Copies of the report are available here, or via the USDA APHIS website under Certificate Number 93-C-1067. A records search shows no inspections for the business prior to the cancellation of their June 2013 license.

This is particularly troubling when one considers that filth, neglect, and vermin infestations provide an ideal breeding ground for infectious zoonotic disease. Improper hygiene substantially increases the risk of an outbreak.

While the excitement of the Farmer’s Market is a joy for humans, it is a torment for the sensitive animals bombarded by its color, noise, and movement. In light of the substandard care documented in the USDA inspection, the inherent cruelty of these exhibits, and the risk of disease those violations pose to the Farmer’s Market attendees, I urge the City Council to permanently bar unsafe and inhumane animal exhibitions from the venue.

Those who wish to eliminate animal cruelty and potentially unsafe conditions from the Farmer’s Market are further encouraged to sign Marcy Winograd’s petition.


John Doppler Schiff
Santa Monica, CA 90403