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Easton Horse Owner Faces Criminal Charges

EASTON, Conn. – The owner of Pee Wee Horse Farm in Easton was arrested on multiple counts of animal cruelty Thursday morning. The arrest followed an investigation in which state Animal Control officers seized five horses, police said.

Apollonio “Paul” Vittorio, 75, turned himself in to Easton Police minutes before 11 a.m. Thursday after police notified him that the state had issued an active warrant for his arrest, according to Chief James Candee. Vittorio was released on a written promise to appear in court.

The charges stem from an ongoing investigation by state Animal Control officers, who received several complaints about the condition of the horses at the Silver Hill Road farm.

The farm, according to its website , offers riding lessons, horse boarding, guided trail rides and pony rides. The site also says the farm is a place “Where folks are friendly and everyone in the family can experience a bit of the Old West.”

According to court documents, state Animal Control Officer Nancy Jarvis and other state officers went to the farm Oct. 19 to meet with Vittorio. The officers saw that 30 of the nearly 100 horses on the farm had no visible shelter and that several were underweight, limping and sickly.

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

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

Officer returned to the farm Dec. 13 and again found that nothing had been done to address the medical needs of the horses. Five horses were seized two days later and are now in a state-owned rehabilitation facility in Niantic.

Vittorio signed custody of the five horses over to the state during a civil hearing earlier this month.

Vittorio is expected to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on Feb. 7 to answer the criminal charges.

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