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Ailing Horses Seized From Easton Farm

EASTON, Conn. – Four horses seized from Easton’s Pee Wee Horse Farm were described as sickly, emaciated and in serious need of medical help, according to court documents.

On Dec. 15, officers from the state Animal Control went to the Sport Hill Road farm and took the four horses — named Blackie, Bucky, Cassie and Dusty — after a two-month-long investigation into farm conditions.

The following account comes from a search and seizure affidavit supplied by Dr. Bruce Sherman of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture:

Officials were tipped off to the conditions Oct. 17 when Officer Nancy Jarvis received a complaint “of a thin horse named Blackie that was limping” at the farm. The complainant also supplied Jarvis with a video portraying a thin horse that had difficulty moving, court documents state.

On Oct. 19, Jarvis and other state officers went to the farm to meet with owner, Paul Vittorio. Upon arrival, officers saw that only 30 of the nearly 100 horses on the farm had visible shelter. Officers also found that Blackie appeared to be underweight, wheezing and had trouble moving.

“On examination of the left front hoof, the horse seemed sore and had a crack in the heel of his foot,” court documents state.

While at the farm, officers spotted “several” underweight horses and one horse, identified as Dusty, was underweight and living in a small coral that was 10 feet by 20 feet in size, the affidavit states. Dusty was “standing in the pouring rain without shelter and extensive mud. No area was available for the pony to escape mud,” according to documents.

On Nov. 17, state officers again went to the farm to check in on the conditions and found that nothing had been done to improve the health of the horses.

According to court documents, “Blackie appeared to have lost more weight” and “was having difficulty walking.” Another horse, Bucky, was seen by state officials the same day and was found to be “severely emaciated.”

Vittorlo told officers Nov. 17 that Bucky was 10 years old and he “couldn’t recall when the last time the horse last saw a veterinarian." In the report, Bucky was described as “severely underweight, emaciated, with ribs and spinal and hip bones protruding.”

During every visit since October state officials warned Vittorio to get his horses checked out by a veterinarian.

On Dec. 7 state officers went to the farm again, this time with a vet, to check on the conditions of the horses. Examinations of the horses found that Blackie had a bacterial infection in his hoof, and Bucky had pus discharge on both eyes and no muscle movement.

On Dec. 13, officers went to the farm to check on the welfare of the animals and found that nothing had been done to correct the medical needs of the horses. The horses were seized two days later and are now in a state-owned rehabilitation facility in Niantic, Conn.

Sherman said Jarvis has been investigating complaints against Vittorio since 2004 and said, “He has had plenty of chances” to correct conditions at the farm. “He’s just being uncooperative.”

Sherman also said 115 horses stay at Pee Wee Horse Farm, 30 of which area horse owners are paying Vittorio to board.

No animal cruelty charges have been filed against Vittorio, and the case remains under investigation.

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