Many of us have seen photos of the cute little buildings at Caboodle and have heard that it’s a cats paradise. The ranch has also had its detractors, and after an undercover investigation hundreds of cats have been seized.
I was stunned this morning to see headlines trumpeting a raid on the Caboodle Ranch, of Lee, Florida. I was aware of the sanctuary through cute images and the occasional feature on the place but, like many, knew little more about its operation.
Both the ASPCA and PETA had a hand in this morning’s raid, and each has issued its own press release on the matter. A disturbing undercover video made at the ranch by a PETA member is being used to bolster the case for the raid. The ASPCA reports that Caboodle ranch has been under investigation for over a year. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is involved in the case and will have to sort out the truth, balancing evidence measured against possible self interest on the part of the prominent groups, reports from various other accusers, and the actual state of affairs at Caboodle ranch, as much as it can be known. A number of cats still set at “hundreds” until a final accounting is made, were seized, and ranch owner and operator Craig Grant will be charged with animal cruelty for the alleged extreme neglect of the animals entrusted into his care.
A Facebook page, Caboodle Ranch: Save the Kitties has been up and running for some time, and has been a gathering place for those holding a negative view of the sanctuary. Some there are also making accusations of financial impropriety, as well, but we have no knowledge that the investigation will encompass financial matters. Time will tell.
It is difficult to know where the truth lies, but the clear fact remains that hundreds of cats have been taken, will be processed and examined, and will need to be dealt with. Some may be put down; perhaps many, if the accusations of illness and disease are valid. Assuming Mr. Grant either relinquishes or loses ownership of the cats, many may be in need of homes or other sanctuaries to take them.
Here follow videos showing differing views of Caboodle Ranch, along with a videonews report on the raid. Below the videos, you will find the ASPCA news release, giving details on the investigation and raid.
wtxl ACB27 report on today’s raid:
Down at the Caboodle Ranch, a positive feature:
Caboodle Ranch: The Real story, a warning from June, 2011:
The disturbing PETA undercover video: Please don’t watch if you don’t want to see cats in very rough shape.
The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), at the request of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Madison County Animal Control in northern Florida, is managing the removal and sheltering of hundreds of cats living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions from a non-profit cat sanctuary known as Caboodle Ranch in Lee, Fla., approximately 64 miles east of Tallahassee, Fla. This is the largest number of cats the ASPCA has ever removed from one location in an animal cruelty investigation.
As a result of an investigation spanning for more than a year, a search warrant was executed Monday morning for the removal of the animals. The ASPCA is collecting additional evidence on the property for the investigation, as well as leading the removal and sheltering efforts with its Field Investigation and Response and Animal Forensics teams. The founder of Caboodle Ranch has been arrested and multiple animal cruelty charges are pending.
“After receiving numerous complaints regarding the care of animals at Caboodle Ranch, we’re glad that the appropriate enforcement action is being taken,” said Sheriff Ben Stewart with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. “This has been an ongoing issue that we’ve been monitoring and we’re grateful that the ASPCA is able to provide assistance with the investigation.”
“The ASPCA is pleased to be able to provide expertise and resources to support the efforts of the local authorities in investigating this ‘sanctuary’ that spiraled out of control,” added Tim Rickey, senior director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “This is a tragic situation. Caboodle Ranch was clearly overwhelmed with hundreds of cats in dire need of medical treatment, and the sanctuary had no adoption program or any spay/neuter efforts to effectively manage its current population. The ASPCA’s goal is to work quickly to remove these cats from the property and safely transport them to the temporary shelter, where they will be triaged by a veterinary team.”
The cats were living outside in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with various medical issues that were left untreated. Many of the cats exhibited various signs of neglect and appear to be suffering from upper respiratory conditions and eye infections, among other medical issues. Several cats were in critical condition and responders discovered numerous deceased cats on the property.
Agencies assisting the ASPCA on scene include: Atlanta Humane Society (Atlanta, Ga.); Bay Area Disaster Animal Response Team (Belleair Bluffs, Fla.); Cat Depot (Sarasota, Fla.); Florida State Animal Response Coalition (Bushnell, Fla.); Good Mews Animal Foundation (Marietta, Ga.); Humane Society of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.); International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, Mass.); McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center (Chattanooga, Tenn.); PetSmart Charities, Inc. (Phoenix, Ariz.); and RedRover (Sacramento, Calif.). Staff from the University of Florida (Gainesville) College of Veterinary Medicine and Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at UF are also assisting with the rescue operation.
“Removing hundreds of animals is a huge undertaking, and we are truly grateful that these agencies offered their assistance in the case,” said Kathryn Destreza, director of Investigations for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team. “Numerous agencies throughout Florida and as far as California have committed to helping us continue our life-saving work and giving these rescued animals a second chance.”
The cats will be transferred via the ASPCA’s animal transport trailer to a temporary shelter at an undisclosed location, where ASPCA medical director Dr. Rhonda Windham will oversee their medical triage. To assist in the triage, the ASPCA has on scene its fully equipped “Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit,” a specially-designed vehicle outfitted with state-of-the-art forensic tools as well as medical equipment tailored for animal patients.
The undercover investigation was set into motion after complaints about the facility were received by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA submitted its evidence to the Third Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, and Madison County Animal Control. The ASPCA was contacted for assistance in the criminal investigation, evidence collection, rescue and sheltering efforts of the case.
About the ASPCA®Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. More than one million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org . To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go to www.facebook.com/aspca . To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/aspca .
About Madison County Sheriff’s OfficeThe Madison County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for law enforcement services throughout our rural North Florida County. Madison County spans over 750 square miles with a population exceeding 20,000. The City of Madison is the only municipality within Madison County with a police department. The Sheriff’s Office coordinates closely with the Madison Police Department to jointly provide law enforcement for the city. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office provides primary law enforcement for the two other municipalities which includes the Town of Lee and the Town of Greenville. For more information, please visit www.mcso-fl.org .