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Support offered for 73 seized horses

The owner of 73 horses and more than 50 dogs and cats confiscated Thursday from a Town of Aurora horse farm is expected to be charged with multiple misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, officials of the SPCA Serving Erie County said Friday.

The attorney for owner Beth Hoskins, meanwhile, said his client's supporters are offering a place where all 73 horses can be housed, fed and checked by veterinarians.

"I know nothing about the plan," Barbara S. Carr, the SPCA's executive director, said Friday, when told about that offer. "We seized these horses [Thursday] for good reason, and we don't want to send them back."

Armed with a search warrant, SPCA workers went to the Emery Road horse farm, where they said they found the animals living in "extremely unsanitary" conditions. All the animals were taken from the scene -- most going to an undisclosed location.

Barry N. Covert, the attorney representing Hoskins, said someone has produced a plan to care for all 73 horses in one Southtowns location. The horses would be housed together, with plenty of room to roam, and veterinarians would check on them regularly.

"We want to put that plan in place, so the SPCA doesn't have to have the financial burden of caring for and feeding the horses," Covert added.

That arrangement would continue until everyone agrees that the animals can be returned to Hoskins, the attorney suggested.

Carr said that six of the horses are being cared for at the SPCA, while the remaining 67 are at the undisclosed location.

They're doing well and drinking a lot of water, she said, but they still need a lot of care.

"Our veterinarians say that these animals have some medical and health issues that need to be addressed, that they were living in dangerous and unsanitary conditions," Carr said. "Those are the experts we rely on."

SPCA investigators called it the biggest local roundup of large animals in at least 35 years. They described living conditions as filthy and unsanitary, saying the horses were standing in large piles of feces and were caked with the same material.

Hoskins, through her attorney, replied that the horses looked healthy. She also took issue with allegations that they were being housed in unsanitary conditions.

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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