Beth Hoskins, the owner of an East Aurora farm pleaded not guilty to ten misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in court today.
"I never in my wildest imagination thought that this would be happening to me. There is a lot more that I'd like to say but I can't at this time," said Hoskins.
Last March, after receiving tips, the SPCA seized 73 horses, 53 cats and two dogs from Hoskin's property. Hoskin's says the horses are valued at almost $2 million dollars. And despite the amount of animals found, Hoskin's attorneys deny their client is a hoarder. They argue she is a nationally recognized horse breeder and maintain all the animals were properly cared for.
"There was no way she was hoarding. Just because somebody is very successful at what they do, you can't automatically say that they're hoarding because they have so many items in that field," argued one of Hoskin's defense attorneys, Barry Covert.
"None of the weights were dangerously low. None of them were tortured, injured, hurt...in fact there have been some problems while they were in the care of SPCA," said Hoskin's defense attorney George Muscato.
But SPCA investigators disagree.
"This wasn't just about horses, the cats were in deplorable condition, the home was in deplorable condition, the barns were in deplorable condition," said Executive Director of the SPCA Barbara Carr.
Investigators say the horses were found standing in their own feces packed almost three feet high and report the animals were kept in deteriorating stables for months on end.
"Many of the horses had sort of chewed through their stalls and there were situations where there were chewings and attackings of each other," said attorney for the SPCA Alan Donatelli.
The SPCA also filed a civil case against Hoskins. They want her to release ownership of the animals so they can find permanent homes for them. Hoskin's attorney asked the judge to dismiss the civil case. The judge set a hearing date for June 14th.
So far, it has cost the SPCA $100,000 to care for the animals since the seizure. However, the SPCA did return two dogs and two cats to Hoskins.