LEE, FLORIDA -- The owner of a large North Florida cat rescue facility has been arrested after a raid by Madison County Sheriff's deputies. The so called "no-kill" shelter had been under covert investigation by PETA.
The animal rights group provided video evidence to the authorities of alleged cruelty to what is alleged to be approximately 700 animals housed there, leading to a raid on the facility and the arrest of the operator on multiple animal cruelty charges.
Craig Grant has run the non-profit Caboodle Ranch cat shelter for several years and would refuse to euthanize any cat or allow adoptions, but allowed sick and diseased animals to be brought to the shelter, infecting other cats, ending in deaths to many, critics of the shelter allege.
The cat ranch came to popular attention when the Steven Colbert Show featured a story about the unusual cat facility. The Madison Florida Voice online news also brought attention to the ranch in a much watched video story.
Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart said he brought in the American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to help in the rescue and relocation of the cats and to give expert advise the the Sheriff's department on how to handle so many animals, many with disease or injuries living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.
“After receiving numerous complaints regarding the care of animals at Caboodle Ranch, we’re glad that the appropriate enforcement action is being taken,” said the Sheriff.
Many of the cats are suffering from upper respiratory conditions and eye infections, and volunteers are finding numerous dead cats on the property, according to a release from the ASPCA.
“This is a tragic situation. Caboodle Ranch was clearly overwhelmed with hundreds of cats in dire need of medical treatment,” says Tim Rickey, Senior Director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “The sanctuary had no adoption or spay/neuter programs in place to manage its current population.”
As this may be the largest animal rescue operation ever agencies from around the country have been called in to assist the ASPCA including: 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.