A horse is shown at the HiCaliber Horse Rescue ranch in Valley Center on March 2, 2018.
A horse is shown at the HiCaliber Horse Rescue ranch in Valley Center on March 2, 2018. (Brandon Quester/inewsource)

The attorney for HiCaliber Horse Rescue has said the nonprofit planned to move out of its Valley Center ranch by mid-September, but no one from the group would confirm that Friday.

Five months ago, HiCaliber founder Michelle Knuttila announced the rescue was shutting down. The nonprofit has been under investigation for allegations of fraud and improper veterinary practices.

The group tried relocating to a smaller location, but three potential rentals fell through, according to a HiCaliber Facebook post in August.

“According to several realtors, the critics of HiCaliber have apparently been faxing and emailing all property management companies and realtors with any listings in our area, attached with tall tales telling them not to rent to us,” the post said.

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It’s still unclear whether the operation will be moving to a different location: Knuttila declined on Friday to speak on the record for this story; HiCaliber co-founder Romney Snyder said, “We don’t respond to inewsource,” when reached by phone Friday; and HiCaliber attorney Sean Jones did not return inewsource’s phone calls, emails or text messages on Friday.

In February, inewsource was the first to report on allegations of fraud and animal cruelty lodged against HiCaliber. Since then, inewsource has published 15 HiCaliber-related stories, including how Knuttila used donor funds for mobile phone spyware and allegations by former volunteers that the rescue hid an outbreak of a contagious equine disease.

Knuttila has denied the allegations against her and blamed “haters” for the negative attention.

She announced in April the rescue would be shutting down and set a voluntary closing date in June. The closure didn’t happen. Jones told the Valley Roadrunner in August the move was pushed back to Sept. 15, but that the date was “not set in stone.” HiCaliber has continued to collect donations through its Facebook page and an online fundraising platform.

As of 6 p.m. Friday, the HiCaliber adoption page listed 11 horses as still available.

In August, Knuttila filed paperwork for a new business, AlphaMare LLC. Its website makes no mention of any rescue efforts or involvement with horses.


“HiCaliber Horse Rescue ensnared in allegations of animal cruelty, fraud”
Feb. 28, 2018

“Strong reaction to inewsource report on HiCaliber Horse Rescue”
March 3, 2018

“Attorney General’s Office halts HiCaliber’s fundraising, spending for failing to file tax docs”
March 5, 2018

“Former HiCaliber board members distance themselves from horse rescue’s financials”
March 5, 2018

“Former board member and veterinarian details problems with finances, medical practices at HiCaliber Horse Rescue”
March 6, 2018

“HiCaliber volunteers say disease outbreak at Valley Center ranch not disclosed”
March 8, 2018

“HiCaliber donor funds used for mobile phone spying, Weight Watchers; documents shared with district attorney”
March 15, 2018

“Eyeballs, Del Mar and manure: More on HiCaliber Horse Rescue”
March 22, 2018

“Fourth HiCaliber Horse Rescue board member never saw financials”
March 28, 2018

“HiCaliber Horse Rescue back to fundraising after filing financial paperwork”
April 18, 2018

“HiCaliber Horse Rescue shutting down amid investigations”
April 21, 2018

“HiCaliber horses not welcome at parade over fears they’ll infect other animals”
May 22, 2018

“HiCaliber Horse Rescue set to close Saturday as investigations of nonprofit continue”
June 26, 2018

“Critics accuse HiCaliber of questionable fundraising campaign built around a dead horse”
July 13, 2018


We’ll let you know when big things happen.

Nicole Tyau was an intern at inewsource. To contact inewsource with questions, tips or corrections, email contact@inewsource.org.

Brad Racino was the assistant editor and senior investigative reporter at inewsource. He's a big fan of transparency, whistleblowers and government agencies forgetting to redact key information from FOIA requests. Brad received his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in...