It’s been awhile since I had heard much about one of the darker chapters in recent Morgan history. Most of you will remember back in 2010 Beth Lynn Hoskins’ Eden Farm in East Aurora, NY was raided by the SPCA and numerous horses and cats (some dogs too I think) were seized. The fall-out over the next few months resulted in Hoskins having 40 (of the 73) horses returned to her while she was simultaneously charged with over 100 counts of animal cruelty (which was later reduced to 74). I don’t know what the judge was thinking, returning animals to someone being charged with animal cruelty. That hardly seems like a good idea. A representative at the SPCA was unable to give me specifics on which horses ended up back on the farm. I’m told though that she was able to select which 40 she wanted back.
Honestly, the more I research to get my facts straight, the more I’m just confused by the legal process (Chris Nerland, I know you have a legal background. Maybe you can make more sense of it). There are a number of figures out there; $850,000+ in SPCA expenses as of March 2012, Hoskins has paid $200,000+ into a bond fund toward the care of these animals, she is also required to pay $13,000+ in monthly board for the 32 horses still in SPCA care, she owes $118,000 to the SPCA for the care of the horses over the last 19 months. I’m not sure how all these numbers are calculated, $850,000-$200,000 is clearly nowhere near $118,000, and $13,000*19 is approxomately $250,000 (although I’m sure there were substantial charges associated with the initial care of the horses, transportation and legal costs to reach $850,000). The bottom line is, the SPCA has incurred a substantial cost here and from what I understand Hoskins has not been forthcoming with financial assistance. (For more information buffalonews.com has been following this case pretty closely and has nearly 90 articles from the last 2 years if you search “Hoskins SPCA”)
Yet, I still see ads in TMH for Eden Farm! Now, I’m not saying TMH should turn down ad revenue. But clearly she has money at her disposal. Supposedly she has even purchased a few horses recently, although according to AMHA registry no Morgans have been transferred to her ownership over the last 2 years. Who would still sell this woman a horse? Hopefully no one who is aware of her history over the past few years.
I hate drudging her personal life out into the open. But, to be fair, from what I understand she was either in the midst of, or had recently gone through a divorce when this whole thing started. Not that that makes everything ok. But anyone who’s gone through a traumatic life event (divorce, death, etc) will know that there’s an emotional and mental fog that can come over you. Since the farm and horses were in apparently good condition when TMC did their farm profile back in 2004, I would not be surprised if turbulence in her personal life had a factor in this. If that’s the case, then perhaps she is on track to bring the farm back into working order. According to the most recent reports the condition of the horses is excellent and regular maintenance is being performed on the farm.
Anyway, one of the reasons I’m bringing this whole thing up is that according to the SPCA there has been no assistance either from AMHA or Morgan Horse owners. Now, technically I’m not sure if there’s actually much AMHA can do to help. But I’m a bit surprised Morgan horse owners, past owners of these horses and breeders have not stepped up. Perhaps they have made donations through the SPCA website that would not necessarily be recognized as having come from the Morgan family. I know it’s not from lack of caring; Forever Morgans and AC4H seem to often get good responses when it comes to helping Morgans in need. Unfortnately there’s no way to earmark donations to go to a particular cause. So, I suppose this is an informal campaign/call to action for Above Level readers. Will you support the SPCA in the care of these horses? How great would it be if the Morgan family would band together to help the SPCA with the care of these horses?