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Farm owner: NYPD horses well-kept

Newsday - October 6, 2006
BY ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO, Newsday Staff Writer

The beleaguered owner of an upstate farm where retired New York Police Department horses are kept said that -- contrary to city claims -- the animals are healthy and not in any danger.

Ernest Green, president of the now-moribund Breonics Inc., also said the city has never responded to his request for help in setting up a non-profit organization to care for the retirement of the steeds on pasture land in Otisville.

"The horses are fine. None are in imminent danger of death," said Green, 60, who also stated he visits the animals, with names like William B. Williams and Worthy Image, every day.

Green and his company have been locked in litigation with the city for more than a year about the property and claims that the animals, now numbering 33, had been mistreated. As the dispute makes its way through court, it could end with the horses being shipped off to another farm.

As successor to a 1983 agreement in which the city sold the land to a previous company, Breonics said it has been trying to work out its problems with the city in a way that is good for the animals. Under the 1983 deal, Breonics, a medical research firm, was supposed to care for the retired NYPD mounts.

But after Breonics wanted to sell some of the land not used for the horses in 2003, the city claimed in court papers that a neighbor alleged the horses were being mistreated and that some were malnourished. The city dispatched an NYPD veterinarian in mid-2005 for an inspection. The doctor reported in an affidavit that there were signs some animals weren't getting good care.

However, Green told Newsday in a telephone interview Thursday that the care given to the horses has never changed over the years. His lawyer, Joseph Ranni, provided a separate affidavit from a different veterinarian who said that in September 2005 he saw the horses and that, while they were advanced in age, "they are generally in very good condition."

"They appeared to be well nourished, well exercised and in an excellent environment," said veterinarian Michael Hardaker in his affidavit.

Green said that he has broached the idea of a non-profit unit to run the horse farm, but that the city hasn't responded except with litigation he said was aimed at driving him into the ground.

A city official who didn't want to be named said any non-profit initiatives would ultimately have to be funded by the city.

"This is all about the city getting money," said Ranni, referring to Breonics' efforts to sell 54 acres of the land. The attorney said Green and friends have been paying for the horses' upkeep out of their own pockets despite a court order that the city start paying. The city officials said the municipality will cover any costs ordered by the court.

Green said Breonics has fallen on hard times and is basically inactive.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

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