Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Benjamin Mantilla, 54 21 malnourished horses seized

Davie, FL

Broward County

January 11, 2014  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
21 counts of felony animal cruelty


21 horses Alleged


Twenty-one neglected horses were rescued from a Davie home after tips to police and the Peaceful Ridge Rescue group. Sixteen were taken take to Peaceful Ridge while the other 4 were taken to Pompano Beach. Unfortunately, 3 of the horses may have to be put down.
The horses are“skiddish” and afraid of people. The neglected horses made it challenging for a team of volunteers to rescue them, but with a lot of patience and care the folks from Peaceful Ridge Rescue got it done .Victor Cutino, President of Peaceful Ridge said, “It’s heartbreaking to see that people do this to horses.”

The environment the horses were in was described as disgusting, deplorable, and inhumane. Cathi Rivera with Peaceful Ridges, said, “Every time you think it can’t get more disgusting and you come across something else and your like wow.”

Photo courtesy of CBS Miami

The horses in the worst shape have physical injuries that have been uncared for. One was found with a huge gash and it hurts another mare to even stand. Her hooves were curled up and had gone untrimmed for nearly 9 months. Cutino said, “Because the pain is unbearable we possibly have to put some of the horses down. We won’t know that until the veterinarian comes out.”

On many horses you can see their back bones, butt bones, and ribs. Stallions and manes of all ages also found in stalls lined with electrical wiring and standing in 2 to 3 feet of feces and urine that has accumulated for years. Rivera said, “I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen anything quite like it.”

The obviously unhealthy emaciated conditions aroused some neighbors concern. A neighbor said, “I did call because I wanted them to check it out. I thought maybe they’re old, maybe I’m wrong.” Word of the neglect and abuse spread quickly in Davie. Horse lovers quickly found ways to help however they could. Lisa Brophy brought 500 pounds of food for the skinny and hungry horses. Brophy said, “The condition of the horses is just absolutely horrible it just tears my heart up to see.”
The neglect still remains under investigation.

Update 1/13/14:
Police found the 21 neglected horses on a 3 acre property on SW 139th Avenue, rescue volunteers called it a horsemill. Two horses were removed from the property a year ago because of a similar complaint.

Instead of a fence, the owner of the ranch where they were found had put up charged electrical wire to keep them on the property. Cutino said the horses were very skittish from being shocked. The most skittish of the horses was a 3-month-old. “That baby was born into that. So she has no idea what it’s like to be clean,” said Cutino. “We are having trouble with her now trying to get her friendly and also trying to bathe her.”

The owner of the property said he couldn’t afford to take care of them anymore, according to Cutino who added it will take months to return the horses to health so they can be adopted out. “We’ve been picking up brushes and we’re going to start grooming them. We’ve been bringing in extra feed and bedding to try and help them whatever way we can,” said volunteer Bettina Ratner.

Davie Police were tipped off by a neighbor who spotted the malnourished animals. The owner of the horses, Benjamin Mantilla, reportedly told police he just couldn’t afford to take care of the horses. “Something severe needs to be done to these people not just fining them $500 or a $1,000, giving them a slap in the hand,” said Cutino. “We need to do more because this has got to stop.”

Photo of Benjamin Mantilla courtesy of CBS Miami

Herbert McQuay, who mows the lawn next door, said he was constantly throwing his mowings over the fence to the horses.
“I was feeding them. But he stopped me,” said McQuay. Why? I don’t know.”

Davie police will bring in a veterinarian to examine each horse. Based on those findings they will come up with what charges to level against the horses' owner.

Mantilla wasn’t charged last year. Davie Police say this time around will likely be different. “I would hate to see an officer go out there and arrest him on a misdemeanor animal neglect charge when it’s in fact animal cruelty and it need to be a felony,” said Captain Dale Engle. “So as a police department we are going to do everything we can to make sure that the proper charges are brought forward against this man.”

Update 1/29/14:
A little more than 2 weeks after near 2 dozen horses were removed from his property, a Davie man has been charged. Benjamin Mantilla, 54, is facing 21 counts of cruelty to animals.

On January 11th, Davie police were sent to Mantilla’s property at 1791 SW 139th Avenue after someone called to report several malnourished horses (read the incident report). Officers found horses with rib cages protruding from their bodies, poorly maintained hooves and manure covered stalls. They also noted watering holes with no water and dirty buckets which the horses were forced to drink out of.

Inside the stalls, hot wires were rigged to keep the horses separated. A hot wire is an electrical wire which shocks the horses to keep them from moving. There were also live wires around the watering holes which would shock the horses if they attempted to drink from them. Also in the stalls, the officers found ankle deep manure and puddles of urine.

In the paddock area, they found horses standing in more manure and puddles of urine.

Davie Police contacted Victor Cutino of Peaceful Ridge Rescue www.peacefulridgerescue.com to come get the 21 horses.

The following day, Mantilla told police during questioning that he was unable to properly care for the horses due to financial problems. He also agreed that the stalls and water buckets were not acceptable. When asked why he didn’t contact an animal rescue agency for help, Mantilla replied that he was in a “dark place,” according to the arrest form (read the arrest report).

Cutino took in 16 of the horses, said it will take months to return the horses to health so they can be adopted out. The other 5 were taken to a ranch in Pompano Beach.

Cutino said when the Paso Fino horses were discovered, they were in horrible condition. “Their manes have never been touched at all, really knotted up, their tales were in the same condition. The body coats were filled with feces and their own urine. It’s horrible. It took us 2 hours to take that off 1 horse,” said Cutino.

Police brought in a veterinarian to examine each horse and based the charges on her findings.


CBS Miami Davie Police