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

6 years ago


6 years ago

What a disgrace to animal welfare! I've seen the Caboodle Ranch and it was a haven for homeless cats. IFAW and the ASPCA should have assisted to make it even better rather than send in spies and swat teams. How awful you all are, not to do what's right for the cats. What are your plans for the poor things now? Put them to sleep? Of course, you'll wait to get all the donations you possibly can. Donations that should rightfully have gone to the ranch. It is shameful that all of the organizations involved could not work together to insure that the happy, healthy cats living at that wonderful ranch could live their lives in peace. All of you could have went in there and donated your time and money to insure that homeless pets had someplace to go. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. I'll bet you won't be posting the outcome of this mess you made. No one will know that the cats are all in cages now, no longer have a home, and are just awaiting a death sentence. I am disgusted with two organizations that I have supported for many years, not anymore.

6 years ago

Former owners of surrendered cats and donors to Caboodle Ranch are forming a class action lawsuit - https://t.co/ZByso6iJ

6 years ago

I red your help and i gaowen to help you with the animals. from karina
I love animals

6 years ago

I've been to the ranch twice. The grounds were very well maintained. There was plenty of food and water. Some cats had URI but this is a chronic problem in shelters. Other than that, the cats appeared healthy. There were no cats with open wounds. Wouldn't it have been better to offer support if the medical management wasn't up to standards? I have pics. of the cats on the ranch to substantiate my claims as well as a video. Craig was trying to help the kitties and obviously dealing with some challenges. Julie Lepper, Caboodle supporter

Friend Meghan of the Animals
6 years ago

God bless you guys for saving animals!

John F. Schiff
6 years ago

To the clueless individual who called this hellhole a "shining example to the entire animal welfare and rescue community", let me share some uncomfortable facts.

Yes, there will always be a percentage of cats in any shelter facility who are sick or injured. But a proper shelter isolates those cats, treats them, and observes the basic requirements for shelter hygiene.

Craig Grant did none of those things.

He refused help repeatedly. He failed to spay and neuter cats. He failed to vaccinate them. He failed to give them veterinary care -- including humane euthanasia -- when they desperately needed it.

The dead cats at Caboodle Ranch did not die from "life". They died because of untreated wounds. They died because Craig Grant allowed sick cats to mingle with healthy ones. They died because the porous wooden flooring that couldn't be sanitized absorbed diseased urine, feces, and vomit. They died from disease, predators, and neglect -- and they died needlessly.

They died because Craig's pathological need to hoard cats took priority over his ability to care for them.

But most of all, they died because people like you let it happen. You live in a fantasy world of happy cats playing in brightly painted plywood houses. The reality is far more ugly.

Thank God for every one of the groups who helped shut this deathcamp down and rescue them from Craig, his enablers, and his co-hoarders.

More information about the Ranch from both sides can be found here, including veterinary records, financial records, photographic evidence, video evidence, and eyewitness testimony.

I can't see how anyone can view the facts of the case and not be appalled by the incompetence and negligence that made this seizure absolutely necessary.


6 years ago

How is it possible that out of 700 cats, Craig's personal cat Tommy is being used as the poster boy for this sting operation? I know he was not the sickest looking cat. I think he was specifically chosen because he was Craig's special boy and these people are trying to break this man and his dream of saving animals.
Tommy the Cat looks upset at the way he is being handled by his "rescuers" & he is probably terrified after being snatched away from his home and left in a tiny kennel in the sun for hours. His legs are shaved because he had been getting medical treatment as evidenced by the entry dates and info on www.caboodleranch.com. This story only tells one side, a side that is obviously biased against Caboodle Ranch. I don't know all the facts and this story didn't help with that.
I think that these organizations should have approached the Ranch openly and honestly instead of staging a year long investigation (documenting cats' suffering perhaps because no-kill takes more of a hospice approach to an animal's end of life experience instead of the "easy out" of euthanasia) and then a very dramatic & traumatic raid.
I see there is a glaring lack of detail about how long the cats were all confined in kennels exposed to the weather and forced to go without food, water or litter. No photos of this mysterious warehouse, as if that was less crowded than the 30 acres. Shocking that so many people were administering medical attention but no one involved the vet who had been treating the cats for years and was likely in possession of their medical files.
I truly believe PETA, IFAW & ASPCA did not have the animals welfare as their first concern and I will no longer be supporting these groups. I used to think IFAW did good work but now it is obvious they are on board with the status quo agenda of euthanasia as a solution to pet overpopulation. Such a tragedy!
Please do some research and get as much information as you can before donating to these groups and maybe consider keeping your donations local to animal rescue groups in your community.

Here's more info about this story for those who like to dig a little deeper than the FOX news spin version presented by IFAW:







6 years ago

Shannon: Your organization disgusts me. You assist in taking healthy animals away from their happy home, for your own publicity and fund raising agenda. Caboodle Ranch, was, is and will be again, a shining example to the entire animal welfare and rescue community into what where and how OUR DONATIONS should be directed. You are no more cultured or classy than a lawyer chasing an ambulance from the scene of a tragic accident all the way into the emergency room to strong arm an unwilling victim into giving you someone to sue. And to educate you on another thing. ALL cats will get sick and die at some point. When you have so many in one facility, there are always going to be a percentage that is in need, or actually receiving medical treatment. In a facility with 700 cats, statistically at least one will die every week, not from neglect but from LIFE. Your publicity campaign may win you some donations from uneducated fools, but for those of us with an actual intellect, your days as a fund raising organisation are now numbered. Pack up your ill-gotton gains and leave now.

6 years ago

To the ASPCA, IFAW, Animal Control, Law Enforcement, and all of the others who came to help the Caboddle cats. I was there, I saw, I felt, and I cried.

From the Caboodle Cats

We were waiting, sick and scared
You came to let us know someone cared
Taking us out of that horrible place
Letting us see a friendly face
You gave us the best gift we could ever receive
Giving us our dignity, love and peace
We know your work was hard and painful
We want you to know we are truly grateful
Thank you, the Caboodle Cats

Everything Shannon said is totally correct. It was awful. Thank you IFAW and ASPCA for all that you do and for allowing me to help.

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