The world of horse rescue is a rough and tumble world – comprised it seems largely of women. I was asked to look into purported abuses by Michelle Knutilla of HiCaliber Horse Rescue in San Deigo County. I am doing some research on it now and plan to publish some preliminary findings soon.
Laura Bell – who also evidently is a horse rescuer and operates Starlight Sanctuary – and wrote a book on the topic of rescue and its abuses – wrote to Frank Report to criticize Knutilla. I published it – as is my policy to air all sides of an issue.
This was followed up by several comments criticizing Bell – namely that she was guilty of neglecting the horses she was pledged to rescue.
In response, Bell rebutted the allegations against herself.
In turn, someone using the moniker MN, who claims her real name is Barbara Benson, was blunt about Bell. She commented:
“Dear Laura Bell,
“I have no issue using my real name. Barbara Benson aka MN aka Hollywood Mole aka Blue Bottle lady (I know you read Shedrow, so, that is who I am). Small minded, nasty and petty?
“Maybe you and Frank should do their homework.
“See, Laura, one thing I am not (but you are and it is documented), is a horse abuser.
“You and your lovely husband should crawl back under the rock you came from, as you have no clue to who I am and what I do. I do know who you are though.
“Teaming up with you is embarrassing at best and all credibility on this page is just gone, if there ever was any.”
Naturally Laura Bell responded. And I do think it is fascinating to read the back and forth, fraught with hostility. Still, in the anger, kernels of truth may emerge on what really happens in the horse rescue field and those who are engaged in it for love, for profit or as a hobby.
Laura Bell wrote in response to MN, addressing her as Barbara [Benson]:
“OK Barbara, are you really one of the true believer followers who helped enable Michelle [Knutilla’s] illegal killing via bullet of over 200 horses? Nothing to be proud of Barbie when groupie enablers facilitated so many innocent horses dying while Michelle & company were living the high life on the donor dollars.
Now in response to Bell, someone, using the moniker BB [Barbara Benson?] replied to Laura Bell:.
“You are adorable, dear Laura. Cute. Really.
“Also. For you. Barbara. I don’t think you know me well enough to have pet names for me.
“The starvation, exploitation and scam operation you and your husband ran is well documented.
I mean. Everyone in advocacy has heard of Starlight. Wasn’t really much of a sanctuary for the horses. I am happy to provide links for you. Although I am sure you don’t need them.
“Wonder if your lawyer is out of prison by now? What was it again? Drug charges ? I am too lazy to google.
“I also don’t engage with the deranged, like yourself. So don’t bother to reply. I mean you can, but I am done. With you and your disillusions.
“I am going to answer some of your burning questions: I sure as hell know what happened to the horses. It is happening in my backyard. Not yours. Where exactly are you hiding these days?
“If you for one second think, I donated or got ‘snookered’ in, you are a bigger moron, than I thought.
But hey. Always something to learn.
“And just between you and I, I’ll tell you a secret: I might have had a hand in getting horses out of there and into safe homes. Might. You know. Maybe. Maybe not.
“So. Laura. Take your crayons and go back into your sandbox. Looks like Frank is willing to play with you. Good luck with your book sales.”
This is a horse purportedly owned by Laura Bell. The Starlight Sanctuary is run and operated by Laura Bell and Rick Bell, in Silver Springs Nevada.
Setting the Record Straight on Starlight Sanctuary
Whether the horse was rescued in this condition or fell into neglect is not known.
“And then there’s their disappearing of 100s more horses that were supposed to be ‘safe in rescue’. Do you have any idea, or even care where horses have disappeared to since late 2013? I know MANY people who have been asking questions about that for over 5 years, but Michelle could always rely on people like you to run interference for her (you’re still doing it, which is really twisted in my opinion). I understand why you’re feeling guilty because you were snookered and, like many people, you just don’t want to admit you were used.
“And where is it ‘documented’ that I’m an abuser? In your ignorant 8th grader mind? Or let me guess, Michelle told you. You’ll be able to bring factual evidence with you when I see you, correct? Great! LOL
“And contrary to spoiled, rich enablers, we’ve continued to work in order to care for many horses that the likes of Hi Caliber followers would have thought it was just dandy for Michelle to execute with a bullet (or two, or…..), so I’ll have to pass on the crawling under a rock-thing sweetie. See you soon. LOL.”