Beth Hoskins says she misses the horses taken from her by the SPCA.
AURORA, NY - The woman at the center of what the Erie County SPCA has labeled as its largest animal rescue in decades says she misses her animals and would like to get them back.
Beth Hoskins was arraigned Wednesday on ten misdemeanor counts of Cruelty to Animals in Aurora Town Court before Judge Douglas Markey.
Markey released Hoskins on her own recognizance after accepting her not guilty plea.
The charges stem from a March 18 raid at Eden Farms on Emery Road, where the SPCA removed 73 horses, 53 cats, and four dogs from Hoskins' home and barns.
The SPCA claims the animals were removed after being found to be malnourished, dehydrated, caked with their own waste, and living in otherwise squalid and dangerous conditions.
However, Hoskins is only formally charged with neglecting ten animals, ..seven horses and three cats.
"We believe clearly there was enough evidence to charge with respect to all 73 horses and the ten cats or so still in our possession. However, the decision to bring charges is the Erie County District Attorney's and not the SPCA's," said Attorney Alan Donatelli who will represent the agency in the civil proceedings expected to be launched against Hoskins.
And while Hoskins has released custody of her cats to the SPCA, her attorneys are petitioning to have the 67 remaining horses which Hoskins is not formally charged with neglecting returned to her.
"Animals owned by Ms. Hoskins for which she is not charged with violating the law should be given back to her. There is no reason for the SPCA to be keeping them," argued Attorney George V.C. Muscato, who represented Hoskins at her brief court appearance.
Outside the courtroom, Muscato charged the SPCA with engaging in a "terrible over-reaction".
"What they did in this case was unconscionable, Muscato told WGRZ-TV.
Flanked by her attorneys, Hoskins voice cracked when she stated, "besides god and my daughter those horses are my life and I never in my wildest imagination thought this would be happening to me."
Hoskins also told Channel 2's Dave McKinley that she misses her horses in particular.
"Every moment of every day. It's a pain beyond description," she said.
"I'm sure that she misses her animals," said Erie County SPCA Director Barbara Carr, who sat in the front row of the courtroom where Hoskins appeared to answer the charges filed against her.
But Carr was firm in her feelings against allowing the horses to return to Hoskins.
"Oh, absolutely not, ...absolutely not! We've heard nothing about how she would care for these animals. She had plenty of opportunities before we were ever there to care for her animals, and she showed us she is incapable of doing that," Carr said.
Carr described Hoskins as a classic "hoarder", which in the parlance of animal protection agencies means a person who may love animals to the point where they take in more than they can possibly care for, ...resulting in neglect of the animals.
"Well, she actually told me she ran out of money," Carr said.
Hoskins indicated that there is more she'd like to say about her situation, but that on the advice of her attorneys she could not at this time.
"When it's appropriate I promise I will give you the whole story," she said.
The horses remain in the care of foster farms throughout Western New York, according to Carr, who says the tab for their custody and feeding has exceeded $100,000 since they were seized more than two months ago.
That's why she says the SPCA will also petition a court to make Hoskins post a bond to pay for it.
"We're very anxious to get that process going so she can pay for the care of her animals instead of our donors who have been very generous," Carr said.
Click on the video icon to watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Ben Read.