On January 24, 2013, Caboodle Ranch posted a commentary filled with half-truths and whole lies. This announcement, entitled “Some Messages from Craig,” appears below with the information that was not provided to readers.
We can’t give up now as we have beaten the ASPCA in the costs hearing because the ASPCA was not a legal agent of the county.
The ASPCA was not an appointed agent of the county, but was contracted by the Sheriff to assist in the seizure and investigation. They were not breaking any laws by not being appointed as an official agent, it just hindered them from recovering their costs.
I wanted to tell you a little about running the ranch. Running the Ranch is almost like running a zoo, but even zoos don’t have 24-hour cleaning services. Mornings at the ranch were messy, like they are in most shelters. By afternoon, the ranch was spotless and visitors could drop by. When the ASPCA and the raiders came so early on that rainy morning, things were a mess. Had they come later in the day, it would have looked like a different place. The cleaning crew has a routine and it doesn’t take a huge staff to make the place perfect. There aren’t individual cages to clean and disinfect, except in the sick ward. Caboodle had several large, outdoor litter boxes, which were recommended by Dr. Lewis. The cats mostly stayed outdoors, but there were some indoor boxes in the barns. But Caboodle was not like a typical shelter and comparing a free-range sanctuary to an enclosed shelter is wrong. The cleaning needs are very different. The people who raided the ranch did not have experience with outdoor sanctuaries, and Caboodle cats paid the price.
Caboodle Ranch was more than messy, it was unfit for humans to live in, let alone cats. The filth was not due to being busted before “morning cleaning” — a common excuse for hoarders when caught.
Grant’s sleeping chair was covered in feces and urine. Cats were found dead and decomposing in a cabinet. Bones were scattered where cats were living. None of those atrocities happened overnight.
CR was not like a zoo, sanctuary, or working ranch. It was a cat hoarding operation. Caboodle Ranch had no permanent staff, just a few intermittent volunteers. For the number of cats at the Ranch, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians recommends at least 18 full-time employees working 8 hours a day 7 days a week to properly care for the cats. Proper care is defined as daily sanitation of the facilities, litter boxes, dishes, and laundry; providing fresh food and water; medicating; and monitoring for illnesses and injuries and providing appropriate medical care. Cat House on the Kings (a legitimate sanctuary housing over 700 cats) has 20 full-time employees, including an on-site veterinarian.
Furthermore, visitors were not allowed to just “drop by”. As stated on the Caboodle Ranch blog, visiting hours were only by appointment, on Saturdays, between the hours of 2pm and 4pm, and were screened by the Ranch’s property manager, Nanette Entriken.
Crime scene photos
Veterinary inspection, 2009
Association of Shelter Veterinarians
Caboodle Ranch blog, Mar. 11, 2011
The cleaning crew has a routine and it doesn’t take a huge staff to make the place perfect. There aren’t individual cages to clean and disinfect, except in the sick ward. Caboodle had several large, outdoor litter boxes, which were recommended by Dr. Lewis. The cats mostly stayed outdoors, but there were some indoor boxes in the barns.
There was no cleaning crew. Caboodle Ranch had intermittent help at best. In fact, CR posted on their website on October 22, 2010, that they were no longer accepting volunteers due to complaints filed with animal control and other agencies. No reputable rescue or shelter discourages volunteer help because those volunteers might expose problems at the facility.
A huge operation the size of Caboodle would have greater need for staffing than most facilities.
A Day at the Ranch, Oct. 22, 2010
But Caboodle was not like a typical shelter and comparing a free-range sanctuary to an enclosed shelter is wrong. The cleaning needs are very different. The people who raided the ranch did not have experience with outdoor sanctuaries, and Caboodle cats paid the price.
The organizations that seized and cared for the cats have extensive experience with cats living in both indoor and outdoor environments. The cleaning needs inside the buildings and cat houses are just like any other shelter. Floors, cages, litter boxes, bowls and bedding all need to be sanitized daily. At Caboodle Ranch, they were not.
Crime scene photos
On-site photos, 2010-2012
I want to tell you about respiratory problems that cats in a large colony can get. Jamie Willoughby, the Animal Control officer, told me URIs are common in all herds, including sheep, goats, or cats. Dr. Levy, the U FL vet said that cats were better off in the open air, and will get better sooner outside. I only put the cats that would run from me when they saw the medicine bottle, or ones that needed to be closely monitored in the sick ward.
Dr. Levy, a nationally respected veterinarian, assessed Caboodle Ranch on May 6, 2009 at the request of Animal Control and the Sheriff’s department. Nowhere in her report did she say that cats with upper respiratory infections are better off in the open air, mingling with other cats. Dr. Levy outlined numerous problems with a free-roaming, outdoor lifestyle, including the “inability to disinfect the environment from infectious feline diseases.”
She noted that more than half of the observable cats were infected with URIs, and recommended that cats with transmittable diseases be immediately isolated from other cats. URIs are extremely transmittable and when left untreated, deadly. No competent veterinarian would recommend allowing cats with transmittable diseases to mingle and infect one another.
The ASPCA testified in the custody hearing that 39% of the population of cats seized had URIs. 82% of those were roaming among the general population of cats.
Summary of Findings, Dr. Julie Levy
Exhibit 9: Total URI Prevalence by Location
WebMD: Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats
UC Davis: Feline Upper Respiratory Infection
Since I started the ranch, I’ve taken my cats to eight different vets, and no one on the prosecution side ever contacted any of them. In 2003 and 2004, Melrose Animal Hospital cared for my cats. Marilyn, the vet, spayed and neutered lots of my cats at her clinic at the Putnam County Humane Society.
The only vet records that Caboodle Ranch produced in the custody hearing were from Dr. Lewis’ office. Dr. Lewis estimated that he had 200 individual cat files, 60 to 80 of which were deceased. No records from other veterinarians were provided.
If Caboodle Ranch did indeed use other veterinarians, it was their responsibility to contact those vets and request copies of the records. The Sheriff provided sufficient proof of neglect and cruelty to warrant the custody hearing; proving appropriate care was the responsibility of Caboodle Ranch. They were unable to produce that evidence.
Cross-Examination of Dr. John C. Lewis
She introduced me to the antibiotics, Clavamox and Doxycycline, which stopped some of the cats’ illness almost immediately. Marilyn helped me by ordering a dozen bottles of Clavamox, a bottle of 500 capsules of Doxy, and 100 vials of #4 vaccines. I was able to give all my cats a booster shot. I personally paid for these medicines from 2003 – 2007. I didn’t become a charity until 2007, so all ranch expenses were on me until then, at which time I took a $1000/month salary for managing the ranch, and still paid for some of the medicines out of my salary.
Because all my files were taken in the search, which may have been an “illegal search,” I neglected to show that I bought $8000 of medical supplies online in 2011. Antibiotics, IV bags, needles, and whatever I needed to treat my babies at the ranch instead of taking them to the vet. A box of Clavamox cost $168. Home care helped save on medical bills, and I gave 100% to care for the cats. In court Dr. Lewis stated that my care was reasonable.
There was no “illegal search;” the signed and legal warrant clearly authorized the Sheriff to seize “any and all records in written or electronic form pertaining to the solicit, receipt, and/or use of donations made to Caboodle Ranch, Inc. or to Craig Grant,” as well as “any and all financial documentation including, but not limited to, statements of bank accounts… or any other documentation bearing or associated with the name Caboodle Ranch, Inc. or Craig Grant.” Copies of all files necessary for Craig Grant’s defense were available to his attorney upon request.
Grant has no formal training on diagnosing and treating cats. In the final order in the custody hearing against Caboodle Ranch, the judge stated: “Caboodle is clearly and substantially lacking in the resources, ability, skill, and (most importantly) willingness to follow expert veterinary advice…”
The evidence for this ruling is plentiful.
According to Dr. Levy’s findings, Craig diagnosed and treated cats based on his suspicion. In 2011 a reporter, Leonora LaPeter Anton, did an article on CR and wrote that she witnessed Grant going around randomly putting medication in cats’ mouths without cleaning the applicator between doses. Craig Grant has admitted to routinely using toxic Clorox wipes to clean cats’ eyes, ears, and faces.
Clavamox requires refrigeration. It spoils rapidly above room temperature, even more rapidly when carried in a pocket. Craig Grant clearly did not know this or did not heed these instructions, as he has been reported dispensing the medication at random from his pocket. Twelve bottles of Clavamox are approximately enough to give twelve cats a single course of antibiotic. But with no record of treatment and no way of identifying or locating individual cats, there was no way to ensure that a given cat received a full course of the antibiotic.
PETA’s investigation found a filthy refrigerator full of maggots, with expired bottles of medicine. Caboodle Ranch claims the cabin it was in was unused, but has offered no explanation for why medications were left to expire and food was left to rot for such a long period of time.
PeTA: Investigative photos
Summary of Findings, Dr. Julie Levy
A stray of a man creates a huge cat family in Madison County, Tampa Bay Times
A Day at the Ranch, deleted blog article, May 02, 2012
In 2006 and 2007, Carol, one of my volunteers who lived near Jacksonville, made the long trip to the ranch every day. She helped with expenses by bringing cat food and supplies. Carol took many of the cats to Scott Mill Hospital and paid for the visits. I recently stopped by the hospital and talked to the vet. He said he was very sorry to hear what happened. He also told me that an animal control officer who comes to his hospital, told him that he was at the Jacksonville shelter where my cats were taken, and he said only about 30 cats were in need of medical attention. A lot of the cats were overweight, and the vet laughed and said you treated them good.
The veterinary records from Scott Mill Hospital are available in the Document Library. They show a level of care completely inadequate to the number of cats and the severity of their condition.
Grant has repeatedly made false claims about his interactions with animal welfare professionals. He never mentions the animal control officer or the vet by name, so this hearsay is flimsier than most.
Caboodle Ranch Veterinary Records, Scott Mill Hospital
When Carol couldn’t volunteer anymore, I started taking the cats to Dr. Lewis. I spent $90,000 from 2008 through 2011, in vet care alone. Dr. Lewis also made visits to the ranch and gave booster shots to the herd in 2011, and was doing the booster shots in 2012 when the raid occurred. A vet that owned Dancing Paws gave booster shots in 2010. I had plenty of vials of vaccines given to me by the vets so I could go after any cats that were missed. My food expense for 2011 was $53,000, all Purina products. The daily cost for the wet food that the cats loved was $75/day.
The cats at Caboodle Ranch did not receive annual vaccinations or exams. In the 8 years the ranch was open, Grant states in the above claim that the “herd” received only 3 instances of vaccinations. According to veterinary records, only a fraction were vaccinated during each instance. It is impossible to know which cats did or did not receive vaccinations, as Caboodle Ranch did not keep individual medical records and had no system for identifying individual cats.
Claims of vet and food expenses cannot be verified since Caboodle Ranch has not filed its 2011 tax return. However, in 2010, Caboodle Ranch reported $18,207 in vet expenses to the IRS. Based on 700 cats, that’s a mere $26/year per cat. And of those vet care expenses, Caboodle Ranch claims that $5,000 was spent solely on the care of one cat, Tommy.
According to the American Pet Products Association, cat owners spend an average of $219 annually on routine veterinary visits. That includes only an annual exam and vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and parasite prevention. The estimate does not include costs to treat illnesses or injuries which would raise the average to approximately $516 a year.
In reality the amount spent by CR per cat is much lower than $26. No one knows the exact number of cats that entered Caboodle Ranch, but never came out.
HSUS: Pet Ownership Statistics
A Day at the Ranch, Mar. 5, 2012
Remember the PeTA video the spy took? It was one of her jobs to take cats to Dr. Lewis. She decided to fulfill her obligation to PeTA by taking photos of cats that had either just been to the vet, or were just going. It makes me sick to see the video of Ms. Plume, the three-legged cat running away from her. The cat was happy, but still a little scared. Sometimes she hid behind the toilet until I came to see her. She wasn’t perfect, and was one of the first cats the ASPCA put down. I’ll never forget her on my lap looking up at me. I held her each night until she calmed down.
PETA’s investigator routinely brought the suffering of individual cats to Grant’s attention, but requests for veterinary care and offers to rush suffering and even dying cats to a veterinarian for emergency medical attention were often dismissed. Sworn testimony backs up these claims.
Sadly, “Ms. Plume,” the three-legged cat seen in the PeTA undercover video who was never referred to by name at Caboodle Ranch until she became a fundraising ploy, continued to decline after her rescue from Caboodle Ranch. At the time of the raid, Ms. Plume — identified in the Offense Incident Report as a 3-legged DMH cat — was suffering from severe emaciation (body condition scale 2 of 9), dehydration (7-10%), fur matted to the skin, and was soaked in urine. Most significantly, the cat was unable to walk not because of the amputated leg (which most cats quickly learn to compensate for), but because of her advanced deterioration at Caboodle Ranch that left her too weak to stand.
Veterinary experts were unable to reverse the damage Ms. Plume suffered at Caboodle Ranch, and were eventually forced to humanely euthanize the cat.
PeTA: Caboodle Cat Ranch Expose
Affidavit for Search Warrant
Madison County Sheriff’s Office: Offense Incident Report
I will continue to give you facts about life on the ranch. My life hangs by a thread now, and if something should happen to me, I want the truth known. My life was destroyed and I put Nanette and my family through hell for months. When it became too much for me, I just didn’t want to live anymore. The local police heard about my mood, and took me to a psychiatric ward in Tallahassee for a day. A doctor on duty understood how awful the attack on my ranch was. He told me I had PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and gave me the proper medicines. I am fighting to have my name, my ranch, and my reputation restored to me. I still suffer the loss of my loved ones everyday. Imagine if your pets were taken from you at the point of a gun. It happened to me, here in the United States. And about 30 miles away, some of my cats are in cages, still, almost a year later.
The majority of the cats rescued from Caboodle Ranch have found forever homes, where they receive the love and care they were denied at Caboodle Ranch. Many are crippled, blind, and disfigured from the neglect they suffered at the Ranch. Yet Craig Grant’s concern is not for the cats, but for himself and the “ordeal” he believes he has been put through: his reputation, his ranch, his suffering.
Craig Grant’s self-absorption, his ominous warnings about “if something should happen to me,” and his psychiatric hospitalization are not unexpected.
Animal hoarding is characterized by a denial or lack of insight about the deteriorating conditions of the animals under the hoarder’s control. Because the hoarder is psychologically dependent on the animals for self-esteem, identity, and control, the removal of these animals often results in depression and suicidal behaviors.
Nothing we have seen in the Caboodle Ranch case is out of character for the “exploiter hoarder” model of animal hoarding, in which the hoarder lacks empathy for the animals and is indifferent to the harm they cause. Animal welfare agencies were helpless to compel Craig Grant to seek psychiatric care, but the intervention of law enforcement has put an end to the damage he caused.
Animal Hoarding: Slipping into the Darkness of Co-Morbid Animal and Self-Neglect
ASPCA: Animal Hoarding
Texas A&M: Animal Hoarding: Identifying the Disease