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Published: September 19, 2008 10:23 pm   

GRAND ISLAND: Sparks’ horses back at the Post

After favorable ruling, Spark’s homecoming almost aborted

In a matter of hours on Friday the Spark’s Trading Post gang went from uncertainty to exaltation interrupted by surprise followed by frustration back to the sheer joy of taking their seized horses and sheep home again.

“Nipper snickered as soon as he saw the trailer,” said Debbie Plumeri, who drove the big horse rig from Bedell Road on Grand Island to the SPCA facility on Ensminger Road to reclaim “their babies.”

“Our barn is complete again,” she said a few hours after the homecoming — that almost didn’t happen.

After easily loading the horses onto the trailer, SPCA officials said they would not release the results of blood tests/health screenings for the horses that are required before being transported.

“It could have delayed getting the horses to the ranch by days if not weeks,” said Patrick Wesp, attorney for Peter Sparks.

“And we weren’t going to transport them illegally,” he added.

A call to SPCA attorney Thomas Viksjo resolved the matter, however, advising the SPCA to release the results of the tests, which screen for an equine disease similar to HIV.

In addition to the return of his 12 horses and five sheep, Sparks is also off the hook for $10,000 in seizure and boarding costs accrued by the Erie County SPCA.

However, the criminal case against Sparks that he neglected the 17 animals — which were transported off his ranch Aug. 12 — continues.

Even so, Wesp expects the case to be dismissed because of what he said is the SPCA’s faulty search warrant. He says the violations listed on the warrant do not match what they cited to take the animals away.

According to Frentzel’s ruling, the horses were being returned to Sparks mainly because the Ensminger Road location “lacks the necessary facilities to accommodate 12 horses for an extended period of time.”

“Had the horses been stabled at other facilities or barns the courts’ opinion in this case may have been different,” he said.

Frentzel went on to authorize regular visits to Spark’s “to ascertain if the animals are receiving necessary food, water and shelter, including proper medical care.”