For years, the Fall Festival held in town has been a place for food, shopping, and other activities. This year it was held on September 18th, and the streets were crowded with various types of people, from those wanting to taste some fresh funnel cake to those buying handcrafted jewelry.
While nearly every booth was filled with people, one was notably vacant: the pony rides. Four small ponies were pitifully tied up to a pony ride carousel, standing in place and unable to rest.
Had a child wanted a ride, they would have been expected to walk in the same 10-foot circle again and again. However, no children were lined up for the ride, and this can be attributed to the efforts of two student protesters.
The two Hackensack alumni protested the mistreatment of animals, holding signs that read “Teach Kids About Animals in Their Natural Habitat” and “10:30 to 5:00 Animal Cruelty”. Occasionally, people would stop by and offer their support, while the pony ride had no takers. The two resolved to remain at the station and raise awareness for the poor conditions and behavior toward the ponies.
Next to the pony rides was a small petting zoo, where ducks, a cow, a goat, and an alpaca were fenced into even smaller circles. The ducks were trapped in a circle with a diameter of merely four
feet. The animals ran around in the little space they had, trying to avoid the children that wanted to pick them up. Such examples of discomfort for the animals therefore prompted the students to take action and voice their opinions.
The protesters said that they didn’t originally plan to come; they saw what was happening that morning, ran to Stop & Shop for signs, and returned. Their decision to help out the animals was spontaneous and unexpected.
Ashley Dondershine, the leader of this protest, said, “The animals have been here from ten-thirty to five, packed up and in a hot trailer.” She was standing in front of the trailer, which was narrow and closed up, allowing little to no natural light for the animals inside.
Following her account of the animal’s treatment, Dondershine pledged “to stop Overland Entertainment from coming to Ridgewood ever again.” Although Dondershine and her colleague successfully discouraged the pony rides, there is still work to be done. Ridgewood is one of many towns that holds seemingly entertaining events for children, but seems to have little regard for the animal cruelty employed by the organizers.
An incident such as this spur-of-the-moment decision can have a great impact; in the case of Ridgewood’s Annual Fall Festival, it stopped revenue from reaching the company that indentures animals under cruel conditions.
Image: Swathi Kella