Horse rescuer in San Diego compared to cult leader Keith Raniere

Michelle Knutilla, a curious horse rescuer.

I received this email from a person in San Diego, California. It does not involve Keith Raniere directly. It involves horses and a horse rescuer.

The reader came to write me because of Keith Raniere however.

Here is the email:


Hi Frank,

  I am reaching out to you after reading about your coverage of Keith Raniere.  Your recent work in this arena may lend itself to looking closer at another charismatic personality that has built a strange following and raised millions in the name of charity.
  How do you suppose you could get animal rights activists to defend the abuse and murder of horses meant to be rescued?
  Perhaps you would display the characteristics of a cult leader:
  • Charismatic, brash and seemingly above the law
  • Sexualize the relationships between the followers and the animals they are trying to save
  • Take in money in the name of those relationships, kill the animals, then blame the morality of the cause
The followers, in turn, might display these types of traits:
  • Mostly women with self-image and esteem issues
  • Highly trusting of those that make them feel valuable or part of something bigger than themselves
  • Willing to accept the feelings of inferiority placed upon them by the leader
Allow me to introduce you to Michelle Knuttila.  Her ‘Horse Rescue’ named HiCaliber has been the subject of many recent news reports in San Diego, Ca.
What isn’t discussed is the loyal and persistent following that she has built and maintains on social media outlets like FaceBook.  
Many that have volunteered on her ranch, and donated large amounts of money, have oddly become accepting and defensive of the overwhelming evidence of abuse.
These formerly peaceful animal lovers have resorted to online harassment, bullying, and physical threats and stalking of her detractors.
Just as strange, is the State and Counties unwillingness to enforce any action against Ms. Knuttila.  This comes, of course, with the typical conspiracy theories.
Meanwhile, Ms. Knuttila continues to raise money and has formed a new ‘online village’ for women.
While there is a comprehensive blog that has attempted to expose the conditions and behaviors on the ranch, no one has taken the sum total and made it consumable for the public to understand.
It is very important that someone with real journalistic experience arrange this information in a way that can protect the public from a woman like this.
Below are some links with more information for your consideration.

As upsetting as Linus’s condition was, the village idiots were in a heightened state of what almost seemed like sexual arousal over having another skinny horse to `save’ and a live feed from their leader. “

nothing says `professional’ like sexualizing the horse you claimed to rescue.  “

Youtube channel with more video and evidence

Thank you for your consideration,

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions,


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Please help make sure the animals that are still under her care are not starving or killed. She is known to fundraise for horses and them shoot them. I cant believe people still follow this maniac.

  • Obviously something is not normal here- as she brought the horses into the house.

    I’ve met people working in animal rescue groups who tried to persuade me to “steal” an animal , by refusing to return it to the owner… .I think rescue group can attract some odd personalities.

    • I’m not sure what the point is here? Are you just showing e mails of others thoughts or are you investigating this so called cult?

  • Michelle Knuttila Cochran and the co-founder of the rescue Romney Snyder (and other primary players at the rescue) are used as examples of the rescue racket throughout our book The Animal Rights War: Lost Souls and Ruined Lives. The last chapter is devoted to relating how they went from virtually unknown in rescue to very prominent through the use of manipulation, lies, illegal activities, and most importantly, under-regulated, virtually lawless social media platforms.

    We use them as prime examples of scam-artists in rescue because we have thousands of pages of documentation that backs up everything we have written about them as factual. However, although we’ve never heard of any other rescue that has shot to death well over 200 healthy animals in just a few years, they are not alone with high levels of fraud, misrepresentation, false pretense, embezzlement, and having mentally abnormal true believer enabler followers that go on the attack of anyone their gurus direct them to attack. We know of several rescues that hopefully soon will also be under investigation.

    Another blog, Hicaliber Horse Killers, began covering their illegal activities of the past 5+ years beginning in September 2016, and also their illegal killing of horses via bullet to the head, complaints filed, etc.

    Several people have been aware of their crimes, cruelty, and also the disappearing of hundreds, if not over a thousand horses that were supposed to be “safe in rescue” through the use of millions of dollars of donated funds.

    Unfortunately, it took several years from the beginning of their criminal and cruel activities 5+ years ago for more people to wake up, and then it snowballed. I pray the killings and disappearing of innocent horses has stopped.

  • Thank you so much for giving this horrific story the national attention it deserves. This woman and her supporters are despicable, as I’m sure you know. This story will no doubt go viral, thanks to you.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083