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RESEDA : Petting Zoo Operator Sues Over March Raid

The operator of a Reseda pony ride and petting zoo is suing the city of Los Angeles, two animal regulation officers and an animal-rights advocate in connection with a case in which the operator was suspected of cruelty to animals.

Linda Menary, who operates The Farm on Tampa Avenue, alleges that the defendants in the suit trespassed on her land March 2, when the officers confiscated nine ponies and horses. She is also suing the city and the animal regulation officers for false arrest.

After the raid, Menary was briefly detained at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Devonshire Division on suspicion of animal cruelty and then released. No charges were filed against her.

The animals, which were taken to the West Valley Animal Shelter, were later returned to Menary on condition that animal regulation officials be allowed to inspect the premises at any time to make sure the animals were not being mistreated, according to court records.

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The suit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, contends that Menary “suffered severe mental and emotional pain and that the acts of the defendants were malicious and oppressive.”

She is seeking $750,000 in general and punitive damages, according to Daniel Trippiedi, who is representing Sandra Venables, the animal-rights advocate named in the suit.

Don Cocek, who is handling the Menary case for the city attorney’s office, was out of town and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Menary already has another lawsuit against the city challenging its decision not to give her a conditional-use permit for the pony ride operation. Michael Klekner, a deputy city attorney, said Tuesday that that case, filed before the March raid, is pending.

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Menary could not be reached for comment on the suit, and one of the animal regulation officers named in the suit, Lt. Timothy Goffa, declined to comment Wednesday. The other officer named in the suit, Lt. Richard Felosky, could not be reached for comment.

But Goffa did say the decision to return the animals to Menary was the result of a deal worked out between the city attorney’s office and Menary.

Regarding the March incident, Venables told The Times that, acting on a tip, the day before the raid, she went to property owned by Menary in the 22100 block of Chatsworth Street, several miles west of the pony ride. Menary was not home at the time, said Venables, who took pictures of the animals. She showed the pictures to animal regulation officials and helped them during the raid.

“I just can’t believe that she would go out of her way to sue me,” said Venables, who runs a Chatsworth-based nonprofit horse rescue agency.

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Venables maintains that Menary had not been properly caring for her animals. Some of the horses and ponies had hoofs that had grown to 5 or 6 inches beyond their normal length. That could end up crippling the animals, she says.


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