On May 14, investigators from the SPCA Serving Erie County charged Beth Hoskins with 10 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty after 73 horses, 53 cats and four dogs were found living in deplorable conditions on her Erie County farm.
"These are definitely some very serious charges," says Jeff Eyre, ASPCA's Northeast Director of Field Investigations and Response. "But it's important to remember that each animal involved was a life that was abused."
Eyre was one of several members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team deployed this past March to assist in what has been declared the area's largest farm animal rescue ever. For more than two months, the Team oversaw the sheltering and care of 74 Morgan-type horses recovered from the scene. The Team also played a vital role in nurturing the abused equines, who eventually regained confidence and trust.
"I can remember the first days after the rescue, when the horses would react to us with horror and fear. They were emaciated, dirty and their manes full of tangles and mats," says Eyre. "Today, these healthy animals can be gently walked with a halter lead and approach humans with interest and affection—that is a huge difference."
On April 30, the ASPCA's task came to a close, as the remaining horses were transported to new foster homes. "We achieved our goal to rehabilitate these horses, both physically and behaviorally," reports Eyre. "These are now happy horses, and I could not have asked for a better ending."
According to Eyre, the Team's next step is to prepare a report that documents the poor physical conditions the equines were found in, as well as their deplorable living conditions, and follows the improvements they have made since rescue.
While Hoskins' attorney maintains his client's innocence, the accused is scheduled for arraignment on May 26 in Aurora town court. To date, the total cost of the investigation, including animal care, has exceeded $110,000.
To read more about the Erie case and the charges filed against Beth Hoskins, visit our Raids and Investigations section.