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Racehorse Owner Charged With Cruelty

Written by PETA | April 10, 2009


Most horses kept for breeding are kept in barren stalls like these.
vet.uga / CC

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for horses. Just watching them run makes me cry. Seriously, it does. That video clip that was shown in Amélie, in which an excited horse leaps over a pasture fence and joins passing Tour de France cyclists? I cry just thinking about it—shoot, I’m crying right now!

So you can imagine my reaction to the news that Thoroughbred breeder and owner Ernie Paragallo has been charged with cruelty to animals after 177 horses were allegedly found starving, suffering from skin infections and untreated injuries, and crawling with lice and worms on his New York state farm. The raid on the farm came shortly after news leaked out that four mares who formerly belonged to Paragallo had been rescued from a “kill pen,” bound for the slaughterhouse. PETA called for his prosecution soon after this hit the news.

This isn’t the first time that Paragallo has run into trouble. In 2007, three starving horses were rescued from his farm and spent a month recovering at an equine hospital. In 2005, his owner’s license was revoked over his failure to pay a vet bill.

In my opinion, hangin’s too good for Paragallo. This man has raked in more than $20 million in winnings over the years—and he can’t spend even a fraction of that wealth on care for the horses who earned it for him?

Fortunately, the cruelty charges, coupled with the slaughterhouse boondoggle, seem to have been enough to convince the New York State Racing Commission to bar Paragallo from the state’s tracks. This means that Paragallo will almost certainly be unable to enter a horse in the state’s “big show”—the Belmont Stakes—in June.

Boo-hoo. (That’s sarcasm—I’m not really crying this time.)

Written by Alisa Mullins

Commenting is closed.
  • linda edwards says:

    My whole life has included a passion and love for horses. As a very fortunate child I was honored to have been an “equine guardian” for over 25 years as a wonderful companion and friend who had a huge impact on my childhood and love of animals. As an adult I introduced my daughter to the same world of horse love and to my delight she shared my love and awe of these humorous athletic and sociable animals. I am once again blessed in my life to have “owned” another wonderful companion for the last 17 years. My daughter shares the intensity I have always felt to the best love and care for our “girl”. I am in total trust and respect for what a wonderful daughter I am lucky enough to have. She has total respect committment compassion intelligence and fierce guardianship of her horse. Every horse should be so lucky and loved. Racehorses rodeo horses carriage horses or any other “business” that exploits horses should NEVER be considered as doing ANYTHING for the best interest or love of the horse. I thank PETA and all its hard working and caring employees for their continuing work to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. As a High School teacher I take every oportunity that I can to “uncover” the real world of animal abuse to my students and remind them that “once knowledgable one must be accountable and take action”. No denial here!!!!

  • Pat says:

    Gabby I dissagree. It is not people like him who gives horse racing a bad name it is HORSE RACING that gives horse racing a bad name. Over 800 horses a year die ON THE TRACK from broken legs. 1000’s more are shipped to Mexico for meat because they are considered worthless to racing. You want to blame someone for giving horse racing a bad name? blame yourself for supporting it in any way shape or form! If you can say you are ALL FOR HORSE RACING then shame on people like you who are misinformed.

  • Sunday Ankrom says:

    Horse racing is cruel I know that because my late Father had several. The things that they do are terrible. One thing is they put the horses legs in ice water for hours before the race. That way if they break their gait they don’t feel it and keep at a steady pace.

  • Joanna says:

    vettech loosing his horses is really no punishment since he was trying to get rid of them by starvation already. I hope the judge will give him the legally allowed one year in jail for each act of abuse. With almost 200 horses starved he will create a strong wake up call to the other USA race horse owners that they are responsible for their horses.

  • Dan says:

    My girlfriend lives very close to where this happened. About an hour away. I was sickened and saddened to see this on the local news. The sad thing is that the Albany area thinks horse racing is great and they want to continue the “tradition” but they say it’s important to weed out bad seeds like this guy. Uh… how about stopping the stupid crap all together?! Duh. Currently I’m working on getting rid of Donkey Basketball and I could use all the help I can get in this area. Maybe I’ll tackle the horse racing next

  • vettech says:

    Well Paragallo thanks for helping improve the racing industry image! Just when some in the industry are trying to make improvements for the horses and the people in it safer some moron has to go and show all of us that some people are only in it for the money. I hope he loses all his money and gets banned for life from every track on this country! Sorry I hate to be so nasty but this is just deplorable immoral and unethical. AGain I ask what is wrong with people?

  • Joanna says:

    After making millions by buyig and selling and racing horses this man then starved them to death. He is the worst kind of abuser as he cannot admit that he was responsible for the acts of barbaric cruelty he commited. May he starve to death in the cold like the poor animals misfortunate to be under his ownership. HE STARVED THE HORSES TO DEATH!

  • Linda Gracey says:

    This man must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I urge PETA to bring him to the full attention of the national media. He should be on CNN MSNBC FOX. The pictures of his horses are as horrific as anything I have EVER seen. And check out what this sick evil man said It wasn’t knowing neglect Paragallo told The Associated Press. Did I try and harm any of those horses? Absolutely not. Did some of them come up skinny? Absolutely. Was it mismanagement? Absolutely. I’m not shying away from it. But I didn’t abuse themIt’s hard to keep track of every horse when they’re turned out in those big paddocks. AND HE PLEADED INNOCENT TO THE 22 COUNTS OF ANIMAL CRUELTY WITH WHICH HE WAS CHARGED. He must be turned into the poster boy. He’s worse than Vick any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Please PETA post photos of his horses. Let everyone see what a horrible man Paragallo is.

  • Leslie C Marceau says:

    everyone that is disgusted by the cruelty in the racing business should email the Jockey Club. and the NTRA Tell the people at the TOP that you demand they hold abusers accountable!!!

  • lance says:

    these stories always sadden me that people can be so cruel….but then I turn it around knowing that there is an organisation like PETA..

  • Gabby says:

    It’s people like Paragallo that give horse racing a bad name. I’m all for horse racing but I’m not for idiots like this P.O.S. that has the funds to take proper care of the horses but chooses not to. It’s people like this jerk off that PETA needs to find within the racing business expose them for what they are and let them pay the price to abusing the horses. We can’t get rid of the horse racing business but what what we can do is investigate and find the abusers withing the system….