BEWARE. Anyone who thinks this convicted animal abuser is a nice person is just horribly naive, ignorant, and been "taken". The owner has been convicted three times and had her herd of over 20 poor, beautiful (she only "rescued" good looking younger horses) "rescue" horses confiscated by Los Angeles County Animal Control three times. Most recently they ended up in Lancaster Shelter late in 2012.
It took three months and starved and sick and dying horses (several of our vets did the assessments for Los Angeles County Animal Control) to refuse to allow her to take back her "gold mine". This had happened twice before when she was reported, but she was able to lie and get them back after a court ruling.
Several of our friends were recipients of these starved horses from the pound, and some were able to be returned to the unsuspecting people who donated them to this fraudulent non profit "rescue", expecting them to be re-homed and adopted out or to live out their lives happily. Thousands of dollars were taken in the form of tax free donations and pocketed as "expenses", and the horses were allowed to slowly starve to death. Many were very sick for a long time.
This probably happened when fewer and fewer "marks" were being snowed by this person who marketed herself also as an experienced riding instructor and trainer (not). What she did was have kids clean corrals and feed and care for the horses, claiming they were learning horse care--AND CHARGING THEM A LOT FOR IT!
What she was getting was free horse care and maintenance so she would not need to hire a stable hand to do the cleaning and feeding and watering and other horse care. Pure profit which ended in animal abuse and starvation.
Disturbing when we know she has started up somewhere else now, most likely under a new name. These kinds of people are so successful at mining the public and eager young horse lovers, why should they stop this profitable scam?
Review from Guidestar
The only other review I read on Ms. Testas' non-profit ranch was only partially true. Yes, ACC did seize her horses and they are pursuing charges against her in court; operative word being 'pursuing'. Did "horselover" never hear the term 'innocent until proven guilty'? I worked on that ranch at the time of the seizure and can tell you that it was a gross injustice! Those animals were the first consideration of Ms. Testas', each and every day. They were feed and watered, their stalls mucked out, their feet and coats checked, and their overall well being looked after daily. The horses were all seen to by a regular veterinarian and an equine dentist. They had a very content life as animals rescued from horrible situations and then 'retired' into open pasture and companionship in the herd. Additionally, her dogs are some of the sweetest dogs I have ever known. I attended all of the ACC hearings regarding this matter; I was there to see the officer giving 'signals' to the supposedly neutral administrator of those hearings, who just happened to be an officer who ALSO worked for L.A. ACC. ! The reason this is GOING to court is so Ms. Testa can FIGHT these malicious and erroneous charges. And, if justice exists, she is going to win. I would heartily recommend any horse organization that she creates in the future, once she recovers from the persecution she has experienced at the misguided hands of the Los Angeles Animal Care and Control Department, who (based on my experience at their hands) are a bunch of hateful incompetents!
On October 2012, LA County Animal Control seized all of the horses from Dude's Rescue. They filed felony animal abuse charges against the owner, Michelle Testa. Her trial begins February 2013. This can be verified via the LA County Index of Criminal Defendants. In addition, a court deemed her 3 Chow/Aussie dogs dangerous. They cannot leave their kennel unless they are leashed and muzzled. This can be verified via LA County Animal Control - Castaic and Lancaster. She is also facing criminal charges for an incident where her dogs bit a child who was visiting her rescue. Please note that, although she no longer has any horses, her website is still up soliciting donations. Please consider donating to a reputable rescue, or taking a trail ride with a legitimate riding stable, rather than Dude's Ranch "Rescue."