A body building couple has been charged with animal abuse after starving and undernourishing numerous horses at their Miami, Florida, ranch.
Forty-eight-year-old Alexa Paez and his fifty-year-old wife Milagros Cowan were arrested after authorities say they found three 'horribly emaciated' and starved horses at their rural ranch.
It seems the couple used the horses to promote their own image, by dressing up in gladiator costumes and posing with the animals:
Behind closed doors, it was an entirely different story.
The couple was arraigned on Friday with four counts of animal abuse — charges that Paez has faced in the past.
According to NBC Miami, the horses were first seized in May by the Miami-Dade Agricultural Patrol and were turned over to South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SFSPCA):
Along with being starved, the horses appeared to not have had their hooves trimmed within the last year. Their hooves were so overgrown when found, that they were having difficulty walking:
SFSPCA's director of ranch operations, Laurie Waggoner, called the horses' stalls “filthy” and said they “looked like they hadn't been cleaned in a very long time”:
Volunteer John Garcia, who saw the stables, told the Daily Mail:
“There was trash and dangerous debris everywhere, all over the ground, making it almost impossible to find a place to walk without stepping on something.”
“There was absolutely no place to turn out the horses.”
The couple faced charges similar to this four years ago, but got them dropped after completing a pre-trial intervention program, the Miami Herald reported.
In response to the new charges, the couples' lawyer Alexander Michaels said they were “no big deal.”
Michaels later stated:
“I wish the police would spend more time on human victims, and child victims, than on horses who skipped a meal.”
According to reports, the horses are currently under the supervision of SFSPCA, and are gaining back weight and looking much healthier.
Still, employees at the SPCA report that the horses are extremely 'traumatized' and have a long road ahead of them before they're fully recovered.