Many Western New Yorkers are upset with the way New York State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Glownia has handled the Hoskins horse mess. Beth Hoskins, a notorious Buffalo-area owner of dozens of horses, has manipulated the court for six years and still has all her horses. It's laughable.
Once imprisoned on 52 counts of animal cruelty, Hoskins has nevertheless played the local legal system successfully. Court order after court order, hearing after hearing, Hoskins has done exactly as she pleased. Worse, the court has acquiesced.
As Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde wrote recently: "It’s Beth Hoskins’ world. The rest of us just live in it."
At the time the most recent New York State Supreme Court Order was being prepared, the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals requested that language be added to insist the Court appoint a person to monitor the transfer of the Hoskins horses to be able to confirm that they reach their final destination. After all, the Court had recently lost track of 29 Hoskins horses for four months by failing to confirm they had been sold and transferred to the new location.
The SPCA wanted the Court to verify that the buyer had sufficient space to house the horses. Since the Court was uninterested in knowing this information - which the SPCA deemed critical to the safety and welfare of the horses - the SPCA called their animal protection colleagues at Lollypop Farm in Rochester to inquire if they knew of a horse farm called Skyloft in their area. If so, we needed to know if there was a large barn on the property which might have 29 open, available stalls.
The SPCA did not initiate any investigation. Instead, we were made aware of an ongoing investigation into Skyloft Farm by the Humane Society of Monroe County. Worse, the report by the Lollypop Farm investigator tells the real story of the deal that Hoskins made with her friend and Skyloft owner Jennifer Hartwell in August 2015: Hartwell had no intention of taking long-term possession of the horses; their arrangement was for Hartwell to house the horses temporarily.
In fact, Hartwell told the investigator she had no money to buy the Hoskins horses, and we now know her barn only has eight stalls. Clearly, the SPCA did not interfere with any transaction because there was no impending sale. The Court was duped.
Today, it is clear Judge Glownia no longer has the safety and welfare of the Hoskins horses as his top priority. He continues to believe the stories made up by a convicted animal abuser instead of relying on the report given to him by a professional animal cruelty investigator in Monroe County.
The judge is desperate to see a deal consummated, even if it is clearly a bad deal for these abused horses.
Judge Glownia allowed the details of the sale to remain private so he could approve a deal that is clearly a material breach of his Stipulated Settlement Order requiring a sale by December 22nd. However, the Erie County SPCA has no intention of allowing the horses to go to yet another overcrowded facility, to go from one overwhelmed owner to another, and from one underfunded operation to another.
Beth Hoskins remains in violation of the Court Order in failing to provide proper shelter, veterinary care, and farrier care for the 29 horses that remained in Niagara County for 4 months. She is held to a higher standard than simply the pasture, hay and water the horses had been given and agreed to be held to the standards of care as outlined in the New York State Horse Council guidelines. And the horses, as victims of criminal cruelty, have a right to proper shelter.
Judge Glownia should be interested in whether these horses have proper shelter at their final destination; he should be interested in whether the terms of his order are being followed. He's not. Instead, he remains unwilling to enforce those terms in allowing the suspension of inspections at Hoskins' Emery Road facility. Even at the latest hearing, Judge Glownia was asking for evidence of the sale, clearly not caring that there is no space for the horses at that facility. He said in chambers to "let it be Monroe County's problem."
Judge Glownia needs to stop allowing more time for the defendant's schemes and fraudulent attempts to circumvent the terms of his order. He needs to enforce his most recent order, putting all 64 horses into receivership so this matter can come to its proper conclusion, and all of the horses can be sold and transferred to safe, permanent homes.
These horses have been through enough - even in "Beth Hoskins' world".
Danielle Paladino Jacobs is a member of the board of directors of the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.