After a bikini-clad woman rode a horse through a South Beach club in March and a tiger showed up at a Miami-Dade prom last weekend, Miami Beach wants to make it clear that farm animals and wild cats aren't welcome in the city.
The City Commission on Wednesday tentatively approved strengthening its animal ordinance to impose stiffer penalties on anyone caught with livestock or dangerous creatures. Under the changes, violators would first get a written warning but could face fines of up to $10,000 and lose their business license if they continue to flout the rules.
And no, it doesn't matter if the cow can do tricks or the horse is well-behaved. The ordinance applies "regardless of whether said animal is domesticated or trained." (Circuses, carnivals and other public events involving animals are exempt from the ban if they have proper permission from the city.)
"This amended ordinance, I think, would further prevent the abuse of animals in the city," said Commissioner Micky Steinberg, who co-sponsored the legislation with Commissioner Michael Góngora.
The proposal comes after Miami Beach temporarily shut down South Beach's Mokai Lounge in March after a woman rode a white horse into the nightclub. Video of the episode shows the horse startle and throw the woman off as she tries to lead it through a packed crowd. The incident sparked an outcry from activists who denounced the club for animal abuse and a lawsuit from a woman who said she was injured during the commotion.
"The incident highlighted the need to specifically legislate a ban on animals being mistreated in nightclubs," said Góngora.
Then last weekend, Christopher Columbus High brought a caged tiger to the school's prom at the Double Tree Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center. A lemur, two macaws, and an African fennec fox were also in attendance. Although the prom wasn't in Miami Beach, city commissioners said they felt the need to act before anyone got the bright idea of bringing a tiger to a South Beach venue.
"Reading about a tiger in a cage at a high school prom this past weekend also shows that we need to have legislation in place banning this behavior," Góngora said.
The proposal passed unanimously Wednesday evening during an initial vote. A final vote will be held at the June 6 commission meeting.