NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), under the authority of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Madison County Animal Control in northern Florida, is managing the medical triage and sheltering of more than 600 cats removed from the Caboodle Ranch cat sanctuary on February 27 in Lee, Fla., approximately 64 miles east of Tallahassee. The animals are currently housed at a temporary shelter in Jacksonville, where veterinary, sheltering, and behavior teams are assessing, diagnosing, treating and caring for the cats.
More cats are expected to be removed from the sanctuary property and transported to the temporary shelter over the next couple of days. This is among the largest number of cats the ASPCA has ever seized in an animal cruelty investigation.
Many of the cats exhibited signs of neglect and were suffering from upper respiratory infections, skin conditions and eye infections, among other medical issues. Several cats were in dire need of medical treatment, and responders discovered a number of deceased cats on the property, in addition to burial sites. Forensic necropsies will be conducted on those remains to determine the causes of death and will be submitted to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office to support its investigation.
“When you’re working with such a large number of cats in a confined space, the main concern is the spread of infectious diseases,” said Dr. Rhonda Windham, medical director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “So far we have triaged, medically treated and provided supportive care to critically sick cats, and performed extensive diagnostic testing for respiratory and skin diseases. We’ve also been able to provide preventative care to those cats that have had medical examinations to get them on the road to recovery. We will continue to provide medical care and monitoring, and then begin to assess each cat’s behavior.”
On February 27, the founder and operator of Caboodle Ranch, Craig Grant, was arrested on an issued warrant ordering the Madison County Sheriff’s Office to take him into custody. He was charged with the following: one count of felony animal cruelty; three counts of cruelty to animals; and one count of scheming to defraud.
“The cats are considered evidence in this investigation, and any additional charges against Mr. Grant will be determined based on the medical conditions and evidence reported by the ASPCA,” said Sheriff Ben Stewart with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. “The Madison County Sheriff’s Office appreciates the public’s support and hopes these animals can move on to a better place soon.”
The ASPCA’s anti-cruelty behavior team will remain at the temporary shelter to monitor the cats’ personality and temperament, and to observe how the cats interact with each other in a group housing environment. The ASPCA will work on placement of the animals once the final disposition has been determined by the prosecutor.
More than 100 responders from 11 agencies are assisting the ASPCA with the investigation, including staff and volunteers from the following organizations: 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.); RedRover (Sacramento, Calif.); and Sumter DART (Bushnell, Fla.). 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.