Crime

South Miami-Dade body builders face animal cruelty charges

Milly Cowan and Alex Paez, shown here posing with a horse on the beach in 2014, have been charged with misdemeanor charges after the animals were emaciated at their South Miami-Dade ranch.
Milly Cowan and Alex Paez, shown here posing with a horse on the beach in 2014, have been charged with misdemeanor charges after the animals were emaciated at their South Miami-Dade ranch. Facebook

Prosecutors have charged two ripped body builders with animal abuse after three starving, emaciated horses were found on their rural South Miami-Dade ranch.

Milagros Cowan, 50, was arraigned Friday on four misdemeanor counts of animal abuse. Her husband, Alex Paez, 48, was earlier charged with the same counts and is scheduled for trial in December.

The two — who travel across the country to compete in body-building competitions — were arrested on similar horse-abuse charges four years ago. The charges were dropped after they completed a “pre-trial intervention” program for first-time offenders.

Paez’s lawyer, Alexander Michaels, on Friday said the newest charges “were no big deal.”

“I wish the police would spend more time on human victims, and child victims, than on horses who skipped a meal,” Michaels said.

Back in May, police and animal-rescue workers found three malnourished horses at the couple’s ranch in rural South Miami-Dade. All sported overgrown, untrimmed hooves that made walking difficult for the the animals.

The ranch grounds were so cluttered that the horses had little room to walk.

“Flammable items were at the facility, along with old boats and trailers, outboard engines, buckets of paint, fiberglass material, cutting objects, garbage,” animal-rights volunteers said at the time. “There was absolutely no place to turn out the horses.”

The horses had once been healthy. Photos posted online show the muscle-bound bodybuilders – Cowan in a bikini, Paez shirtless and holding a giant sword a la Conan the Barbarian — posing with a gray mare at the beach in 2014.

The same mare, when seized by police, was so skinny its ribs protruded from its skin.

The horses are being cared for now by Laurie Waggoner, of The South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“They’re doing well. They’ve gained a lot of weight,” Waggoner said Friday. “They’re friendly now. Before, you couldn’t touch them. They were completely wild.”

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