Owner arrested, hundreds of neglected cats finally rescued in Florida

One of the rescued cats now under care in Florida. c. ASPCA/Mike Bizelli We're out here, despite the torrential downpour because hundreds of cats need us desperately. This is our second day in the town of Lee in northern Florida and I'm leading a team of ten International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) responders to help with the rescue of hundreds, yes, hundreds of cats and two dogs that have been living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions at a local cat sanctuary known as Caboodle Ranch.

We're here at the request of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) who in turn were assigned to conduct this massive effort by the Madison County Sheriff's Office and the Madison County Animal Control.

Why massive?

Well, this is the first time we've responded to such a large number of needy cats and we're prepared to move and shelter over 700 of them, no easy task!

Today we are processing a vast animal crime scene and working hard to honor the cats (and two dogs) rescued from this nightmare scenario. The rain has not let up but neither have we!

Scene documentation and evidence collection is much harder in this weather but we are focused to get the job done right.

Critically-ill cats are being rushed by IFAW responders to receive immediate emergency medical care. While carrying some of the cats I sometimes hear them crying but mostly I hear no sound.

It makes me so sad to hear nothing but the rain drops falling on the carriers, it's as if whoever is in there can't muster enough energy to cry out for help or has lost their will to live entirely.

The silence adds to the urgency and it makes me all the more focused on my task. So many sick cats unable to even seek cover from the storm. I work among them and silently tell them “it's going to be ok now”.

The founder of the Caboodle Ranch has now been arrested and he's facing multiple animal cruelty charges, this is case where clearly he lost all ability to properly care for these animals.

So far we've seen cats with upper respiratory conditions and eye infections, some cats unfortunately are in very bad shape, others have simply not been able to survive the neglect and abandonment.

For those that are still with us, they will get the best care available and we'll make sure that the IFAW team is there to help shelter them so they can ultimately find a safe and loving home in the near future.

Stay tuned for more field updates from IFAW staff and volunteers rescuing hundreds of cats in northern Florida.

-- SW

Comments: 34

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

I pray and pray and pray that people like you are born again and again on this otherwise wretched planet, Shannon.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

great post Shannon, so happy to know you and IFAW and the ASPCA are on the ground. We all know the work that needs to be done will be done with class, efficiency and speed and all involved will be better for your service. Thank you Holly Rogers

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

such a sad story, I visited the ranch a couple of times. The outdoor environment was very nice. There was plenty of food. It was obvious that Craig had put a lot of work into the ranch. I had concerns reg. the upper respiratory issue but this is a chronic ailment in shelter environments. I think Craig's mistake was continuing to take in cats despite inadequate vet care. He loved those cats and wanted to save them all. However, there was a missing link with his ability to care for their medical needs. Julie Lepper

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

why didnt he seek help for these babies. how can anyone see these cats sick and do nothing,just leting them die a horrable death not being able to breath.i hope many can be saved and pray that they will find a loving forever home. i hope they punish that guy a million times. bet he was getting donations and spending it on himself. praying for a speedy relief darlin angels love you all.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Shannon, you and the whole team of rescuers down there are angels sent to help those poor babies. Love ya bunches.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Good on you guys! I feel so sorry for those poor, poor cats (and two dogs), I can't believe there are people out there who would do such a thing. Maybe the owner of the sanctuary meant well at first but really, I'm sure they would've been better off as strays than to live like that..and that's saying something for no cat or dog should be forced to live as a stray either. ..At least now they are in good hands and have a chance to have a good life ahead of them, even with the mental and physical/internal problems from their neglect they at least now have a second chance at finding some happiness with a loving owner. So thank you guys for rescuing them and keep up the good work you are doing.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Thank you Team IFAW for being one of the valuable groups caring for these animals. Your loving hearts and caring hands will make a huge difference in the lives of these cats and two dogs...

Donna Lagomarsino

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Thank you for professional caring

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

I finally found a contact peson for this raid. Please, please, please instruct your volunteers to remove their muddy shoes/boots before entering the motels. Not very comforting knowing these individuals have been in mud/cat feces; and then only to bring into establishments with unknowingly individuals... not to mention the inconsideraton for the motel employee (yes I said motel employee) as there is only one at night to clean up behind these individuals, in addition to normal clerk duties. I personally witnessed this and was absolutely "appalled" at the inconsiderate conduct.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

wonderful post Shannon, so proud to know you...

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Experts

Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Dr. Ian Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Hanna Lentz, Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Jan Hannah
Northern Dogs Project Manager
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
Program Director, Companion Animals
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Nancy Barr, Program Director, Animal Action Education
Program Director, Animal Action Education
Rebecca Brimley, Program Advisor
Program Advisor
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters