EL DORADO HILLS (CBS13) -– A Northern California animal rescue group may need some rescuing of its own after helping save dozens of horses in what some are describing as the worst cases of animal cruelty they’ve witnessed.

Volunteers from The Grace Foundation in El Dorado Hills were not prepared for the conditions it found on a Northern California ranch in April, where the carcasses of 25 horses littered the property, many just the skeletal remains.

“It was just a graveyard for horses,” said Beth DeCaprio of The Grace Foundation. “It was the worst case I had ever seen.”

Graphic video shows the horrific conditions at the Whispering Pines Ranch in Lassen County. Some of the surviving horses were forced to feed off the dead.

On Wednesday, Dwight Bennett, the owner of Whispering Pines Ranch, was arrested and charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty.

“There’s a price to pay when we forget about the innocent and the voiceless,” said DeCaprio.

DeCaprio helped rescue 56 horses over several months, all of them now at The Grace Foundation Ranch in El Dorado Hills. Nursing the ailing equine back to health is a slow and tedious process. And there are about to be more “unexpected” survivors.

“You know, it’s a tragic situation. And these are all young horses under 3 who are all pregnant,” explained DeCaprio.

At least 18 mares are pregnant. And finding homes for the horses is not easy. There aren’t enough people with the means and interest in giving the horses a good home.

And now, tight on cash, The Grace Foundation is in need of some saving of its own to continue its mission to save these horses.

“We’re just desperately asking the community to step up and help us in any way they can,” DeCaprio said.

One of the horses rescued from the ranch is now a police horse for the Folsom Police Department.

Comments (152)
  1. Gene Rossi says:

    How about annexing the guys property and sell it off for the needed money

    1. Tabatha01 says:

      The guy filed bankruptcy and the land cannot be touched at this time. The bank will get it unfortunately. But good idea. The slime bag also claimed the horses as assets valued at 195k I believe, so the horses themselves are in some kind of legal limbo hell.

  2. Gene Rossi says:

    do it today

  3. Tabatha01 says:

    As more of the story unflolds many might want to check out the Grace Foundation. They have a 7 min. video clip that is much more telling of what happened. Beth and the folks who volunteer there are truly amazing people. There is also a link on their page that tell the WHOLE story about those poor animals. Watch for Bay, he is a beauty (now) go to http://www.thegracefoundation.com Best wishes Beth and All.

  4. Dante M Carpino says:


  5. Dante Carpino says:

    Mrs. De Caprio you are an angel. Passed on the video; can’t watch animals in distress but will view yours so I can send help.

  6. Shelly says:

    Do any local businesses want to step up and host a fundraiser for them? I’ll donate products for raffle prizes.

    1. Tabatha01 says:

      Shelly, if you can find any go for it! I would also donate items for the auction. I have met Grace a few times and can tell you she rocks! So do the other people that work there. Go to http://www.thegracefoundation.com and you can read the whole story there. The DA wasn’t even going to file any charges and that was AFTER Beth of The Grace Foundation and others from the organizations were contacted by that county to come and get the worst of the horses. The whole story is disturbing. This story doesn’t even mention the foster kids he had or that the kids were his only source of income, nor did it tell you about the fact that they found meth on site.. Also, the animal control officer up there did nothing because she had a horse stabled there and hers was one of the worst horses there! It was an ungodly horror pit there. I urge everyone to visit there website and watch the full video (about 7 min long) then read the whole story they have linked, not just the first page that shows the video.
      Oh and The Grace Foundation is LOCAL right off Latrobe road in El Dorado Hills. They even offer horseback riding lessons and Birthday Parties to help raise money. The Foundation has my name and number, if you get something going call them and they will call me with your phone number. Good Luck and thank you in advance for anything you do. I hope everyone remembers even a dollar can help!

      1. Tabatha01 says:

        *Excuse me I have met Beth of the Grace Foundation a few times

  7. Tabatha01 says:

    Nice. Do you kiss your Mother with that mouth?

  8. barbara says:

    it took 6 months to arrest him???
    WTH! is wrong with our legal system? The suggestion to sell off his property to care for the victims of this POS is a GREAT IDEA!
    Police seize property and money all the time if it was used or obtained in a crime why not in these cases?
    Again did he explain or give any kind of excuse as to why he did this?

    1. b says:

      i beleive its is a no win situation for the police, if they were chasing someone who has neglected some animals . and from what i have read it is neglect which differs from abuse, so who determines the difference and if the police are wrong who gets sued.I hate to put it this way but on the grand scale of things they are just a bunch of horses

  9. jjelek says:

    If the US wouldn’t have banned the selling of horse meat to other countries this wouldn’t be happening.Just saying

    1. Buck says:

      You are absolutley right. Do gooders have wiped out the market for horses, while never considering the unintended consequenses. Here in Texas ther are lot’s of places where dead horses are lying in back pastures. The horse sale requires a Coggings test, then fuel costs to ship to auction, if you’re going to lose money in the transaction, it’s cheaper to put them down yourself in the back pasture.

      1. Abilene says:

        I have horses here in Texas, and I also fly a helicopter over much of north central Texas. I see some sad sights. It’s not only horses lying at the back of the ranches. There aren’t enough rescue organizations to place the animals, and in this economy, it’s going to be difficult to get reliable help to establish rescue facilities. My heart goes out to those horses in California, but the transportation cost to bring them to Texas would be too great, and there are much closer animals that need rescued, anyway. I have the land and the desire to do it myself, but again it’s the overhead. It would be great to get some of Obama’s stimulus stash, but since the horses aren’t union, it’s unlikely that would ever happen.

  10. W. Lasten says:

    …I’ve always wondered what WHhhlllBbbur ‘did’ w/ Mr. Ed, after he was done, doin’ what-ever-else-he-did-to, or, -with, that pretentious animal…
    I alway figured a nice charcoal-lined fire pit, lots of wine, gravy, veggies & home-recepie, spices-to-taste, Chef Lasten’s presto-gustatation, and, with a few o’ the buds over…
    Why, it would’ve been a regular, old, “EAT_MR._ED_COMEPLETLY” party!
    …Next year, the horse from ‘Animal House’!

    1. Beau says:

      There’s always one idiot that needs his butt kicked.

  11. Monterey says:

    There’s a place in I think Oregon that takes in abused horses. It’s called the Ranch of Rescued Dreams or something like that. Try contacting them.

    1. Becky Royle says:

      There are equine rescue facilities all over the country, and most of them are filled to overflowing. The reality is that without slaughter as an option for horse owners who have old and injured animals that need to be put down…they are left with onlyl 2 options. Kill them and dig a hole themselves (which most of your run of the mill backyard horse owners are incapable of) or leave them to die a long and suffering death if not in their own back yards then in the hands of unscrupulous “rescue” groups. I love my horses, I would never even consider a slaughter house for them but lets face facts here….where are all the old, infermed and destitute supposed to go exactly??

  12. b says:

    jjelek what you need to understand is people dont want solutions to problems that dont coeincide with there beliefs (although they are logical) animals were put on this earth for our use and our stewardship, it would make sense to be able to dispose of your animals if you no longer have the means or desire to care for them .and should be allowed to do so as you see fit.

  13. Monterey says:

    Contact Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, OR. That is the name of the place that takes in abused horses.

  14. Brian says:

    What is wrong with you all? Saying that the government should be able to seize and sell your property instantly is like saying they should be able take the constitution and set it on fire. You are asking them to completely ignore the right of property ownership. I understand that the issue of the starving horses, but what you are asking is for the government to take complete and total control over our lives. Some things are bigger than some mistreated animals.

  15. Vicki says:

    We need to rescind the ban on horse meat… a quick bullet to the head would be much more humane than months of suffering and starvation. Then the meat could be recycled and put to good use. Imagine all the OWC protesters one horse carcass could feed!

  16. a. hinson says:

    i am a second generation horseman, my fathermade a living with horses as i do. noone loveshorses more the i. bones on the ground do not prove abuse or neglect, this man is convicted without a trial. horses are property, and if we allow the government to step in and dictate how a horse should be handled, then we all lose. people with with good intentions do not make good stewards of animals, some real knowledge is needed.

    1. porchhound says:

      Agreed…here again we have the uninformed demanding action without any understanding of the situation.

  17. porchhound says:

    This is what happens when you don’t allow the humane killing of unwanted horses. If they reopened the slaughter houses you wouldn’t see these terrible situations. The HUMANE SOCIETY is a BOGUS OPERATION that spends a pittance on actual animal welfare and the rest on administrative (salary) costs and advertising.

  18. Bucksaw says:

    “There’s a price to pay when we forget about the innocent and the voiceless,” said DeCaprio.
    Nice sentiments. Does she feel the same about aborted babies?

    1. Edgar Friendly says:

      In our new world order animals/nature are considered above humans.

  19. WeeWillie says:

    Pray tell: What is the difference between using horses for meat or using cows pigs, sheep, goats etc.? Some 35,000 culled wild horses are fed at government expense in the Midwest. Horses should be process for their meat hides and bones. This would provide much needed jobs and foreign exchange, and provide fodder for more beef. It is insane not to use horses as food. My fondest memories are of riding horses on the plains. But after the horses got too old, dog food they became.

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