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Easton Horse Farm Owner May Face New Cruelty Charges

EASTON, Conn. -- The owner of an Easton horse farm charged with cruelty to animals said one of the horses that was euthanized by the state wasn't sick and should have been returned.

“They put a horse down, but it didn't have EPM (Equine protozoa myeloencephalitis) and we had an experimental drug to cure him,” said Paul Vittorio, owner of the Pee Wee Horse Farm.

He also said the judge who is hearing the case “doesn't know anything about horses.”

Ray Connors, supervisor of the state animal control division that sent officers to examine the horses on the farm, agreed Gold Rush, the horse that was euthanized tested negative for EPM. But he said, “It had a fractured bone condition that was going to continually degrade so we made the decision to euthanize the animal.”

Vittorio was charged with five counts of cruelty to animals in January. He appeared in court last week and filed for accelerated rehabilitation, which would have expunged his record but “we found three more horses that needed immediate care so Vittorio was ordered by the judge to have a veterinarian examine the horses by Friday,” Connors said.

Connors wouldn't reveal the veterinarian’s findings and said additional charges may be filed.

Vittorio said he’s owned the farm for 23 years. There currently are about 70 horses on the farm, including 30 boarders. He said the horses are in “beautiful condition,” but admitted, “horses find a way to get hurt.”

He’s scheduled to appear in court July 12 and said, “we don’t stand a chance against the state, they've got the upper hand.”

He’s afraid he may have to sell the farm and said he could pass it on to his daughter. Connors said each of the five counts of animal cruelty is punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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