About Caboodle Ranch

The Raid and Rescue

What is Caboodle Ranch?
Caboodle Ranch is a self-described “cat sanctuary” in Lee, Florida. The 25-acre property is owned by Craig Grant, a man who has been collecting cats on the property for more than a decade. The Ranch is decorated with brightly-painted plywood buildings that have delighted visitors… but conditions at the Ranch have deteriorated steadily, resulting in dangerous and unhealthy conditions for the cats. After years of reported neglect and intervention by the courts, law enforcement obtained a warrant for the arrest of Craig Grant and the seizure of the cats.

How many cats were at the Ranch?
692 cats were rescued from the Ranch in 2012, 653 from Craig Grant, and 39 from Nanette Entriken. Prior to that seizure, nobody knew how many cats were at the Ranch, including Craig Grant. The Ranch maintained no intake records and cats were not individually identified or documented, so nobody knew exactly how many cats were entering the property, leaving it, were missing, or had died.

At the time of the raid, the decomposing remains of 29 cats were found in and around the buildings of Caboodle Ranch. Many more were found in trash bags in shallow ditches near the Caboodle Ranch “cemetery”.

“Have retrieved, cared for, and currently have over 500 cats at the Ranch.”

Caboodle Ranch Form 990 tax returns, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010

“Three hundred to five hundred cats…”

Caboodle Ranch Sworn testimony of Animal Control Officer Jamie Willoughby, May 6, 2009

“We have 600 cats at the ranch.”

A Day At The Ranch, Sep 21, 2010

“700 lives are now on the line, and it’s ignorant to think each one of them will find a new home. 700… More than even Craig knew he had.”

A Day At The Ranch, Mar 3, 2012

Were the cats contained on the Ranch?
The cats were not confined to the Ranch, and neighbors frequently complained about incursions and damage from roaming Caboodle cats. Pictures of cats wandering the roads outside the Ranch were common, as were incidents where cats were run over by passing cars.

By 2008, predation by coyotes became a regular occurrence at the Ranch, which led to concern about the welfare of the cats.

Caboodle Ranch took up a collection to put up fencing around a five-acre portion of the Ranch, and that fencing was completed nearly three years after Craig publicly acknowledged that coyotes were present around the Ranch. However, cats are still able to pass freely over and under the fence.

In an attempt to discourage cats and predators from passing over the fence, barbed wire was added to the top. This may be the cause of some of the horrific open wounds seen on cats at the Ranch.

In 2012, an EAH inspection indicated that improved fencing was under construction, but incomplete. The report also noted the intention of the Ranch to replace the barbed wire with an electric fence.

The cold winter nights, a distinctive train whistle, and the woods come alive as coyotes cry out. My little friends seem not to pay any attention. The tree forts, ladders to trailer roofs, dens and access to many trees seem to keep everyone safe. I carry a pistol with me at all times at the ranch, a boost of confidence for sure, on nights that they are all around us.

A Day At The Ranch, May 8, 2007

“Craig lost a couple of his favorites to coyote attacks.

It has taken a while to put fencing around the entire length of 5 acres, but it was finally finished this weekend.”

A Day At The Ranch, Sep 21, 2010

Did the cats receive veterinary care?
Caboodle Ranch has repeatedly asserted that “all the cats in Craig’s care were seen regularly by a veterinarian.” However, this is implausible for several reasons.
1. Tax filings for the Ranch show an average of less than $26 per cat spent annually on veterinary care. The national average for vet care for one cat in the U.S. is $516. $26 is an unrealistic amount for the care a cat with chronic illnesses, serious injuries, and other ailments requiring continuing treatment.

2. Because few of the cats had identification or individual records, there was no way of knowing which cats had or had not received treatment, or even what ailments the cats were suffering from. The 2009 veterinary inspection noted that treatment was based on Craigs personal knowledge of a cat’s identity, and that treatment was rendered based on Craig’s personal opinion of whether a cat was sick.

3. A significant number of cats at the Ranch were feral (although the exact number quoted by Ranch staff changed almost daily). Because these cats avoided human contact and spent most of their time in the woods, coupled with the lack of identification, many cats likely went untreated.

4. As anyone who has maintained a feral cat colony can tell you, trapping a free-roaming cat — much less an unsocialized feral cat — can be a difficult and time-consuming process. It is not feasible for one man to regularly feed and maintain 700 cats, including trapping feral cats and providing them with veterinary care.

5. Multiple independent sources of documentation detail cats suffering from weight loss, fur loss, open wounds and abscesses, neurological problems, parasites, infectious diseases, upper respiratory infections, broken bones and compound fractures, amputations, and unneutered cats which show no evidence of receiving veterinary treatment.

The lack of veterinary care was demonstrated when the Caboodle Ranch veterinarian, Dr. John C. Lewis, was subpoenaed in the custody hearing against Craig Grant. Dr. Lewis was able to produce records for only 250 cats over a 7-year period. Approximately 50 of the cats accounted for in the records were deceased.

How many of the cats were feral?
Estimates of the number of feral cats varied depending on what problems the Ranch was trying to downplay. On March 10th, Caboodle Ranch spokesperson Nanette Entriken stated that the cat population was “mostly feral”. Less than two weeks later, Nanette said that the majority of cats were domestic. In 2010, a Ranch spokesperson stated that “almost all” of the cats were feral. Yet pictures show huge numbers of cats milling about, desperate for attention, and ASPCA volunteers commented on the friendly and socialized nature of the majority of cats, noting that “four hundred of them just walked into our carriers.”

“Well even if four hundred (mostly feral) cats did walk right into their carriers, what about the 300 that didn’t?”

A Day At The Ranch, Mar 10, 2012

“But we don’t just take in stray and abandoned cats. We take in ALL cats. In fact 60% of our cat population is domestic cats.”

A Day At The Ranch, Mar 21, 2012

“Please remember that almost all of these cats are feral, and were living ‘in the wild’ before ever arriving at Caboodle Ranch.”

A Day At The Ranch, Sep 21, 2010

Is Craig Grant a hoarder?
Compulsive hoarding is a psychological disorder in which the impaired judgement of the hoarder leads to the pathological accumulation of animals, to the point where the animals suffer from neglect, starvation, disease, and death. The hoarder often remains in denial about the condition of the animals, even when confronted with shocking evidence of their suffering.

Is Craig Grant a hoarder? That’s a question that only a therapist can answer definitively. However, there are warning signs common to most hoarders, and the presence of these signs may indicate a hoarding situation:

  • They have a number of animals significantly above the norm.
    Craig Grant had more than 700 cats at the time of his arrest, more than he knew were on the Ranch.

    “In 2009, after reading news accounts that portrayed Caboodle Ranch as a cat utopia, the Bechlers brought two cats there to be rehomed. Larry recalled asking Grant how many cats he had. ‘Over 300, but I’d like 3000,’ Grant told him.”

    Caboodle Ranch WCTV, Apr 2, 2012
  • Their home is in disarray and disrepair.
    The buildings at the Ranch were in varying states of disrepair, ranging from newly constructed buildings to dilapidated buildings no longer suitable for habitation. Because of the lack of working facilities at the Ranch, Craig Grant would periodically rent motel rooms in order to “clean up.”
  • Floors may be covered in animal waste and debris.
    Undercover video of the “sick ward” shows filthy conditions, including surfaces covered in dirt, feces, urine and vomit. Caboodle Ranch spokespersons claim that the room was cleaned several times a day, but due to the number of cats, it quickly became soiled again.
  • Animals may be emaciated, sick, or unsocialized.
    Most of the cats at the Ranch were indeed socialized, although Ranch spokespersons repeatedly suggested that “nearly all” of the cats were feral. ASPCA rescuers stated that “four hundred of them just walked into our carriers.”

    Veterinary teams inspecting the Ranch estimated that 75% of the cats were unwell, with 25% underweight, and 10% dangerously emaciated.

  • Fleas and vermin are present.
    Inspections and veterinary reports reveal extensive infestations of fleas, ear mites, and grain mites. The PeTA video shows a building infested with cockroaches, and a non-functional refrigerator swarming with maggots. The Ranch claims that cats were treated for fleas, and that the building was unused and slated for demolition. There is no evidence that cats were receiving consistent treatment for the ear mites or grain mites.
  • The individual is isolated from the community, and may be neglecting personal hygiene, appearance, or health.

    “For months he lived in a small shed on the property that would later become Caboodle Ranch. It had none of the comforts of home, including electricity or running water… Craig slept on floors, drove a truck with 450,000 miles on it, and refused to spend a single dime on himself for much needed medical and dental care.”

    A Day At The Ranch, May 10, 2009
  • The individual insists that all animals are happy and healthy, despite clear evidence of animals in distress.

    “Maybe over the next several weeks the cats will be healthier and happy looking again. I never feel they are neglected; I care for all of them every day.”

    A Day At The Ranch, May 10, 2009

    “Based on the cats that we observed, it appeared that approximately 25% of cats were in outwardly healthy condition and in good flesh (Figure 1). More than half of cats appeared to have upper respiratory infections (Figure 2), approximately a quarter of cats were underweight (Figure 3), and approximately a quarter of the cats had substantial hair loss (figure 4). About 10% of cats that we observed were severely emaciated (Figure 5). Several cats had open wounds or abscesses (Figure 6). Diarrhea was commonly observed in the litter boxes and forest sand.”

    Summary of Findings, Dr. Julie Levy, DVM, May 14, 2009

    “They also asked why there were some cats that had a runny nose or eye or that looked like they had lost fur or weight. I always do my best to assure people that what they ‘see’ isn’t always what they think it is.”

    A Day At The Ranch, Jul 30, 2009

“As with many hoarding cases, we don’t doubt Craig’s intentions or dedication to his cats – but it is simply not possible to provide the necessary care to this many animals.”

Stephanie Sivula, Dancing Paws Animal Wellness Center

What set the raid in motion?
Although complaints had been received by Madison County Animal Control, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, The HSUS, the ASPCA, PeTA, and local animal welfare groups for years, it was not until PeTA launched a five-month undercover investigation of the Ranch that enforcement action was taken. Upon reviewing the videotape of conditions at the Ranch, the Sheriff’s Office deemed that there was sufficient evidence to take action against the Ranch, and a warrant was obtained for a search of the premises, seizure of the cats, and the arrest of Craig Grant.

What are the charges against Craig Grant?
Craig Grant was charged with one felony count of animal cruelty, three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, and one count of scheming to defraud (later dropped, possibly while more intensive investigations are conducted). Additional charges may be filed against Craig Grant, his property manager and collaborator Nanette Entriken, his son Rob Grant, and his daughter Cindy Wolfe if they are found to be involved in the animal cruelty and the alleged fraudulent use of donations.

What groups are involved in the rescue efforts?
As of March 2, 2012, the following groups are assisting in the investigation, triage, temporary sheltering, treatment, and ongoing care of the cats:

How is PeTA involved?
PeTA’s five month long investigation gathered the evidence needed to move forward with the law enforcement action against Caboodle Ranch. PeTA is not involved in the sheltering or care of the rescued cats.

Why did it take five months to gather evidence against the Ranch?
To build a case for animal cruelty, it is necessary to document that evidence meticulously. The slightest gap or error can destroy an entire case and let an abuser evade justice.

Animal cruelty cases have an extremely low priority in law enforcement, and the smaller the municipality, the less time and resources they have to investigate. The evidence against Caboodle Ranch is overwhelming, yet it took years of complaints before the Sheriff even began to look into the problem. So it was necessary to gather the most damning evidence, and to document it over time so that it could not be dismissed as a “one-time lapse,” or a “bad day,” or a dirty room “caught between cleanings,” or one of the many explanations and justifications offered by Caboodle Ranch and its supporters.

The evidence needs to be ironclad, persuasive, and it needs to show a pattern of abuse. In this case, gathering that evidence took five months. Other animal abuse investigations have taken years. The conditions are Caboodle Ranch were so blatantly unacceptable that the investigator was able to gather sufficient evidence for criminal charges in that time.

Why did the investigator allow Lilly to suffer?
Lilly the cat suffered for five months without veterinary care, prompting some to ask why the investigator didn’t do something about it.
PeTA has addressed this issue on their website:

“Over the months, despite my repeated efforts, I could not get Caboodle’s founder and operator, Craig Grant, to take Lilly to the veterinarian—even though I pointed out her obviously dire condition frequently and repeatedly. Craig consistently refused my suggestions—and pleas—that Lilly be taken to the vet, even when her eye was bloody, swollen, encrusted with hair and goo, and practically falling out of her head. Finally, her cornea ruptured. Yet, Craig turned down my offers to drive her to a veterinarian for treatment. He turned down my request to take her home so that I could try to nurse her back to health. He referred to Lilly as ‘the cat with the bad eye.’

You may be thinking, ‘Why didn’t you just take Lilly?’ I wish I could have, but that would have meant not just breaking the law but also endangering the investigation and the welfare of hundreds of cats, including others just as sick as Lilly.”

Why didn’t the ASPCA or PeTA help Craig instead of raiding Caboodle Ranch and taking all the cats?
Craig was repeatedly offered assistance from a variety of organizations, but because this help would require Craig to stop taking in cats (and exposing those new cats to infectious diseases), he declined. He balked at the idea of experts lecturing him on how to care for cats, and refused to acknowledge that the conditions were unsanitary or dangerous to the cats, despite evidence of injuries and illness.

Many organizations were eager to assist Craig in order to prevent the raid and seizure of the cats, but ultimately, only Craig could accept that assistance. When he refused for several years, there was no option remaining other than to seize the cats for their protection.

What happened to the cats?
The cats have been moved to a shelter in Jacksonville for triage, examination, and treatment. The shelter had been closed in 2009, but was renovated and leased by the City of Jacksonville to temporarily house the Caboodle Ranch cats.

The cats are being held in cages with large indoor and outdoor runs of equal size, 24 square feet of space in each section. They can move indoors or outdoors at will, and have boxes, baskets, and bedding to curl up in.

They are receiving emergency veterinary care and treatment for fleas, ringworm, and other diseases. The cats are kept in separate, quarantined areas to prevent the spread of disease: FIV and FeLV cats are isolated from other cats, feral cats are kept in another area, the many cats with upper respiratory infections are kept in an area of their own.

Each day, the cats receive personal care and socialization from volunteers and staff of the assisting organizations.

The first adoptions events are scheduled for August 11th and 12th, 2012.

Nanette Entriken’s cats were held in an air-conditioned trailer. Each cat had its own 6-foot tall vertical cage, roughly 10 square feet at the base. These multi-level cages had hammocks, shelves, and ledges for the cats to climb and relax on. The 39 cats confiscated from Nanette’s mobile home were released back to her on May 24, 2012.

Were the cats euthanized?
As of April 23, 2012, thirteen of the cats had to be humanely euthanized due to the severity of their illnesses and neglect.