Animal lovers picketed outside State Supreme Court in downtown Buffalo on Monday morning over a judge's decision allowing an accused animal abuser to reclaim dozens of her horses even though the criminal case against her has not been resolved.
Also on Monday, 114 additional counts of animal cruelty were filed against the horse owner, Beth Hoskins. The new charges are in addition to ten animal cruelty counts Hoskins is already facing and all of the charges are in connection with a raid in March of Hoskins' East Aurora farm. S.P.C.A. officers involved in that raid say they found animals living in deplorable conditions including waist-deep manure in some of the horse stalls.
Hoskins is currently in the process of taking back 40 of the 73 horses seized during the raid. A civil court judge ruled last week she could have 40 horses back even though the criminal case against her is still on-going.
Attorneys for both sides were back in civil court Monday morning to argue whether Hoskins should be required to re-pay the S.P.C.A. for the costs it's incurred in caring for her animals. The S.P.C.A. says they've spent more than $200,000 taking care of the horses since March. Justice Joseph Glownia announced on Monday though that he will delay his decision on the reimbursement matter until later this month after he's reviewed arguments from both sides.
Hoskins was not at court for Monday's proceeding but she is expected to appear in Aurora Town Court Wednesday evening when she's scheduled to be arraigned on the 114 new charges. Those charges also allege the mistreatment of 48 cats. "The cats were locked in a 12 by 15 approximately sized shed, covered in feces, not an ounce of food or water available anywhere in the shed," says Lindsey Styborski, an officer for the S.P.C.A., "They were climbing on top of each other, just covered in urine. There was even a litter of kittens born in that filth."
Attorneys for Hoskins dispute the allegations and claim all the animals were receiving care. "I think the case was a gross over-reaction," says George Muscato, attorney for Hoskins, "Ultimately I think we are going to prevail and I think it's very unfortunate these beautiful animals had to go through these tragic events."