(It is the policy of Frank Report to air all sides of a controversy and we have one now. It is about horse rescuers and their rather vicious abuse – if not of the horses – of each other. In this editorial by Laura Bell, she explains how Barbara Benson has been effectively taking the side of controversial horse rescuers Michelle Knutilla and Romney Snyder. She also claims that Michelle and Romney tried to sabotage her own horse rescue operation.
It is important to note that at this point, Frank Report takes no side in this dispute, and until we investigate it further, it would be improper to make any judgment. It has come to my attention, however, that there are some who are critical of the fact that Frank Report is giving both sides space to present their point of view.
This unfortunately cannot be helped. I have found that only by airing both sides of an issue does the truth ultimately emerge. I have little doubt that some important truths about the horse rescue business and/or charity will emerge from this debate. All are welcome to comment.
As a final word– I have found that the more fact-driven, rational and polite a writer is, the more it seems to be persuasive to readers in general. The rude writer – hurling insults at every opportunity – and always appealing to emotions – actually comes of as rather sophomoric and in the long run distracts from her own good points.)
By Laura Bell
Thank you Barb, your performance exceeded even my expectations. See you in the next year. LOL.
Also, our defense attorney wasn’t on drugs, never in jail, or prison, so why are you defaming them?
Maybe you should get your timeline of occurrences and events in order instead of being purposely vague about a complex chain of events. The entire factual story is in the last chapter of the book; you’d be well served to read it so you stop digging yourself a deeper hole.
I’m thinking you stupidly gave several thousand dollars to Michelle Knutilla & company for their defense, but once again, your one-off vagueness and childish potshots are designed to inflame others who are too lazy to look for and deal in facts and truth.
In my opinion, so many horses were executed because of your type of careless, thoughtless behavior, it really is tragic.
A bit of advice going forward: make sure you gather up all of the vet reports and other documentation for our horses so you have them when I see you. Kind of hard to do that when you never saw our horses, don’t know their names, their histories, their ages, pretty much nothing about those horses.
Oh, you were also never even at our property, correct? So let’s see, whose photos, videos, and writings are you using? That’s right, Michelle’s! LOL.
A woman I only maybe met three times in person at the feedlot when she was there to transport feedlot horses (to this day I’ve never seen, let alone met, Romney in person), who was also only at my fishbowl property one time for maybe an hour.
Interesting fact: all of our horses were easily viewable for anyone to see from all four sides of our unfenced property that didn’t have trees (we didn’t live in the great piney woods, surrounded by trees blocking views of horses, and we actually had sick horses next to a well traveled road).
And gee, if she was so concerned about what she “found”, she could have called me to come home to find out what was happening and express her concerns (Hint: if she had done that, she wouldn’t have been able to stage photos and videos and instead I would have walked her around while we talked, videoing our conversation, explaining the illnesses we’d been dealing with for months that she already knew about, histories on other horses, dangerous behavioral issues on many of our gorgeous healthy horses (horses she would have thrown down some grain and shot while they were eating ….. not nice seeing as people like us are happy to care for them), etc.
Michelle could have called animal control (she didn’t), or the sheriff (she didn’t), etc. But no, she couldn’t get out of there fast enough, after theatrically calling my name when she KNEW no one was home because I told her that when we talked on the phone that morning.
Things became crystal clear the next day when Michelle and Romney attempted blackmail on us in a PM wanting to cherry pick through our 50 healthy horses and would leave “the sanctuary type horses” (the acutely and chronically ill) with us because “they should stay with you Laura”.
On her videos, she states -paraphrasing- “They’re all like this (skinny)” as she’s making sure to hold her camera down so as not to show the array of healthy horses, 22 troughs with water in them, etc.
Barbara, you and many others were snookered, but unlike many who decided to be fair and look deeper, you’re showing your true colors (I wish it weren’t so because you actually sound like a caring person with the work you put in at the Ontario auction and elsewhere) and continue to attack my family.
So before you really think showing staged photos and videos that Michelle took of 15-20 acutely or chronically ill horses that she knew nothing about other than what I had told Romney about, trying for several months to treat sick horses brought home from the feedlot that managed to infect some of our long-term residents, is going to prove your point, you, of all people, should read our book and maybe than you’ll see how you’re still being used by Michelle and Romney.
Suffice to say that we proved to authorities that, instead of killing horses to get them off our feed bill and dispose of them to keep the likes of people like you from attacking us, (which you’re still engaging in nearly 5 1/2 YEARS after the fact), we chose to spend our own money, as we always have, for 25 years at this point, to care for them.
We didn’t shoot them and we also didn’t ask our vet to do it, because the horses needed help and wanted to live.
I pray for your sake Barbara that if you get old, are diseased, are skinny, lame, etc. that you will have people to help you instead of them wanting you to “hurry up and die” because you’re a money-pit of need and care, and also a ball and chain no one wants to take care of.
That does happen to people (I volunteered at a senior center and care facility and it was heartbreaking to watch), but happens to animals by the hundreds of thousands/millions annually because many/most people can’t or won’t take care of animals, especially big eating horses, that have no purpose, or can’t perform anymore (as Hitler’s T4 Euthanasia Program stated, they are “unworthy of living”).
We’ve always been a place for the past 25 years (long before we filed as a nonprofit in 2011.)
I hope you didn’t and don’t think that we just began rescuing in 2011 and/or from the feedlot in October 2012 because that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s all in the last chapter of our book. You really should read it and you’d see how you’re still being used by hucksters.
At our place, horses with behavioral and/or physical-health issues could come to where they’d have friends and love and we don’t kill them just because we don’t want to spend our hard earned money on them. Even the most dangerous horses just need time to become more peaceful once they know we place no expectations of performance on them. We care for them the rest of their lives because in the wrong hands they may revert, hurt or kill someone, and disappear into the slaughter pipeline.
But now, over five years later, we still get attacked by uninformed people like you that are still doing Michelle and Romney’s dirty work.
So rather than being attacked again, and as heartbreaking as it is for us, we don’t take horses with chronic, progressive health issues anymore, and they often go through one of the weekly kill sales, or are sold directly to the feedlot. Their end is the same via either type of sale/disposal: inhumane, horrific commercial slaughter in Canada at the end of a chain.
I feel bad about it everyday, especially when I’ve just told someone “no, I’m sorry, in the past we would have taken your old gelding in, but we don’t anymore because we’ll get attacked for having a horse with his condition”.
So if you really are compassionate Barbara, and also a horse lover, maybe you can dwell on the fact regarding why Michelle only posted the minority of our horses we had at the time (15-20) that were acutely and/or chronically ill/geriatric, while not showing the 50 that were “fat and happy’s” (Romney wrote that) that they thought they’d cherry pick through, leaving us with the ill/old ones that weren’t usable/adoptable.
When I said “no, I’m calling animal control out here first thing Monday morning” (written on Saturday) the proverbial shit hit the fan and the social media mob attacks began that nearly destroyed our lives.
People like you just keep the attacks and defamation going, but at least we never decided we’d simply execute horses as your friends Michelle and Romney did while pocketing millions of dollars in donations earmarked for caring for them.
Hopefully you’ll be introspective and will figure out why you’re allowing yourself to continue to be used by Michelle, Romney, and others on the other side of the fence from them.
I’m happy to speak to you on the phone as I have with many other people, but I understand if you’re stuck in your position because it’s hard admitting you were/are being used.