Saratoga County

Horse’s injuries lead to arrest of harness trainer

A Saratoga County harness trainer is accused of abusing and injuring a horse in his care.

A Saratoga County harness trainer is accused of abusing and injuring a horse in his care.

Joseph D. DeCarlo, 46, of Clifton Park, was arrested by Stillwater police after an investigation prompted by a complaint from a Stillwater horse farm about an injured horse. Stillwater Police Sgt. Ray Cordani said a week of interviews and documenting the extensive internal and external injuries to the standardbred gelding led him to conclude that DeCarlo maliciously and cruelly overdrove and abused it.

Under the state’s Agriculture and Markets law, he was charged with overdriving, torturing and injuring animals, a Class A misdemeanor.

The damage to the horse, which included external mouth injuries, required emergency medical care by a veterinarian. “The horse is recovering nicely,” Cordani said. “That makes me happy, but now there are consequences.”

DeCarlo, who was issued an appearance ticket, is due back in court in September, Cordani said.

At this point, it’s not clear whether DeCarlo will be allowed to race again in New York state. He hasn’t had any horses racing recently, according to the U.S. Trotting Association website.

New York State Gaming Commission spokesman Lee Park said, “The Gaming Commission has begun the process to ensure that this individual is not participating in horse racing in New York state.”

DeCarlo has been cited for seven violations by the state’s Racing and Wagering Board, now the Gaming Commission, since 2006. One violation included a positive test for a banned drug at the Saratoga harness track, which resulted in him being fined $250 and suspended for 30 days, but the rest were minor violations, like failing to have a horse in the paddock at the right time, which resulted in fines ranging from $100 to $500.

Based on the allegations against DeCarlo, Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, a longtime animal rights advocate, argued that the case should be characterized as aggravated cruelty, a felony that carries up to two years in prison.

Cordani said the aggravated cruelty charge, as currently written, applies only to companion animals and couldn’t be applied in this case.

That reasoning was echoed by Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy, whose office is still waiting for an opportunity to review the facts in the case. “The felony statue applies only to companion animals, not to working or farm animals like the horse in this case,” he said.

Because of the narrow language in the aggravated cruelty statute, Tedisco is pushing for the creation of Skye’s Law, which would add horse abuse to the definition of aggravated cruelty.

Categories: Schenectady County

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