04/08/2009 12:00AM

177 of Paragallo's horses in police care

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The state police took possession of all 177 horses on the upstate New York farm owned by Ernie Paragallo on Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into the care of the horses there, several state agencies said.

Officers with the New York State Police, representatives of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, veterinarians representing the ASPCA and officials of the Columbia Greene Humane Society executed a search warrant on Paragallo's Center Brook Farm on Wednesday, according to the state police in Coxsackie. The ASPCA veterinarians concluded that all of the horses "showed varying stages of malnutrition" and that the horses "lacked proper veterinarian care, vaccinations, and proper shelter," according to the police.

The horses were not moved from the farm and will remain at Center Brook, the police said.

"They said I couldn't move any of them until I met with them," said Paragallo, referrring to the state police. "And they told me it was 25 horses who were thin and some were missing some hair."

Paragallo talked with representatives of the police after they served the warrant, he said, and set up a meeting at the farm on Friday morning.

The police said that the search warrant was obtained on Saturday after state police visited the farm following an anonymous complaint about possible animal abuse at the farm.

One day prior to the visit, the wagering board said that it had opened an investigation into the care of the horses at Center Brook Farm. The investigation was prompted by reports that seven of Paragallo's horses had been bought out of a pen at a New York livestock auction house, and that a horse-welfare organization that bought four of them said they were malnourished. Another 13 horses owned by Paragallo were sent to slaughterhouses from the auction site, according to the welfare organization.

Paragallo is a leading owner in New York who races under the name Paraneck Stable.