Caboodle Ranch dissolved, ordered to liquidate all assets

Jul 01 2014 Published by under News

Caboodle Ranch dissolved by order of Madison County Superior Court

No wonder Caboodle Ranch has been so quiet!

On June 27th, 2014, the court handed down a stunning defeat for Caboodle Ranch. Caboodle Ranch is ordered to:

  • Dissolve Caboodle Ranch.
  • Immediately stop accepting animals.
  • Immediately stop accepting donations of cash or materials. (As of July 1st, Caboodle Ranch is in violation of this agreement, as they are still soliciting and accepting donations on their website.)
  • Remove all animals from the property, including the 45 animals being kept there illegally.
  • Liquidate all assets.
  • Cease all expenditures.
  • Ensure that Madison County Animal Control has access to all areas of Caboodle Ranch to conduct random, unannounced inspections.

If Caboodle Ranch fails to meet any of these requirements, they will be held in criminal contempt of court and subject to sanctions.

By no later than October 1, 2014, Caboodle shall be finished “winding up” and “liquidating” its affairs and be dissolved. To be clear, by this date, Caboodle shall no longer be conducting any affairs, “winding up” or otherwise, shall not have possession or custody of any animals, shall not own any assets and shall not open any bank accounts.

What does this mean for Caboodle Ranch?

For the short term, it means that Caboodle Ranch is finished in the state of Florida. They have been ordered to dissolve the nonprofit entity known as Caboodle Ranch, and if they choose to start a new scheme to solicit donations, it will be at least a year before they can do so as a nonprofit.

Furthermore, given Caboodle Ranch’s criminal history, it is unlikely that the IRS will grant them a new nonprofit exemption.

Caboodle Ranch raked in a quarter million dollars in one year from deceived donors, and they’re not going to give up that scheme willingly. However, they’ll have a much harder time gaining a toehold. If Caboodle Ranch resurfaces in Georgia, as they have vowed to do, they will find that the local government is no more willing to put up with fraud and animal cruelty than Madison County was.

But this time, the authorities have been warned…. and they are ready.

We will bring you further developments as they happen.

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Craig Grant released from probation, immediately faces contempt of court charges

Jun 23 2014 Published by under News

One year ago, Craig Grant narrowly escaped criminal prosecution by accepting a plea deal. The resulting probation and deferred prosecution agreement were discharged on May 29th of this year, prompting cries of victory on the Ranch’s Facebook page.

Those claims of victory were premature.

The County Court has ordered Caboodle Ranch to appear before the judge and explain why they should not be punished for criminal contempt of court. In the hearing set for June 27, 2014, Caboodle Ranch will answer charges that they have intentionally violated the court’s 2012 injunction prohibiting them from possessing or having custody of animals.

The evidence submitted by the Sheriff includes the Ranch’s own pictures and Facebook posts showing cats currently on the property, fundraising pleas for cat food, and the Ranch’s 2012 tax return claiming expenditures for food and other cat-related expenses.

Caboodle Ranch has been launching desperate fundraisers on the promise that the Ranch is “back in business”. On June 27th, the court will step in once again to put an end to that boast.

Post made to Caboodle Ranch's Facebook page proclaiming they are 'back in business'.

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One year later, Caboodle Ranch still feigns ignorance

Mar 13 2013 Published by under Facts

On March 9th, the Caboodle Ranch Facebook page posted a series of disingenuous questions designed to provoke outrage over the rescue of their abused cats.

The answers to those questions may be found below.

1. Who authorized the raid?

The warrant for search and seizure were lawfully requested by the Sheriff of Madison County for violations of Florida Statutes §828.12, §828.13, and §817.034. The warrant was approved and signed by Judge Gregory S. Parker.

2. Why was the ranch raided before the Excess Animal Habitat ordinance requirements were met?

The Board of County Commissioners is not a law enforcement agency. When a crime and evidence of that crime — including multiple dead and dying cats and cats suffering from extreme neglect — were reported to the Sheriff, it was determined by his office that the cats were in immediate jeopardy. The cats were then removed from the Ranch for their own safety.

CR’s failure to comply with the requirements of the EAH has nothing to do with the criminal neglect and animal cruelty that led to the raid. Asking why one agency ordered CR to make improvements to the Ranch and another arrested them for felony crimes is like asking why a child molester got a parking ticket before being arrested. They are two entirely different violations.

3. Is it possible that Jamie Willoughby was not involved in the raid?

Yes. Willoughby did not perform his duties as an animal control officer, and allowed Caboodle Ranch to continue to operate despite numerous violations and mounting evidence of the abuse at Caboodle Ranch. For example, one email from Jamie Willoughby clearly arranges a time and date for an “unannounced” inspection of Caboodle Ranch; plenty of time for the sickest cats to be hidden away in a trailer which Willoughby never inspected.

In light of that appalling lapse in Willoughby’s responsibility, it’s entirely possible that he was removed from further involvement in the case.

4. Why was Craig’s original bond set for $250,000? Is animal cruelty more heinous than a Zimmerman shooting?

Craig’s bond was set at $250,000 because he was accused of multiple felonies, and that’s what the judge set his bail at. Different jurisdictions have wildly different guidelines on bail amounts, and the judges in these cases have considerable latitude in deciding bail amounts.

Additionally, the Trayvon Martin case did not involve suspected fraud and nearly one million dollars in donations over a period of years. One might assume that this made Craig Grant — a man previously arrested on felony charges of obtaining money under false pretenses — more of a flight risk than someone with no prior criminal history.

But again, this is apples to oranges: those are two different cases in two different jurisdictions with two different judges.

5. Why was the Excess Animal Habitat Ordinance necessary and why wasn’t CR grandfathered?

The numerous complaints from neighbors made the need for tighter regulation obvious. There was no reason to allow one facility to ignore these very sensible and basic rules just because they’ve previously ignored them and are used to doing business in that manner.

And once again, this is an irrelevant distraction: Craig Grant’s felony arrest had nothing to do with the EAH ordinance and its enforcement. He was arrested for felony and misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty, confining animals without food and water, and scheming to defraud.

6. Did Bebe and Goliath’s World get a permit because Loretta Swit is the celebrity spokesperson?

No. Bebe and Goliath’s World got a permit because they were able to meet the requirements of the EAH, which are not extreme and are easily met by any facility that has been following minimal animal welfare guidelines.

7. Why was the ASPCA/CR costs hearing stopped to give the ASPCA more time to present its case?

The judge in this case has made every effort to allow both sides to present their case with as much detail as needed.

8. Now that the ASPCA has been found to be an unlawful participant in the raid, why is it coming back to court to amend an order it violated in August?

This is a false assertion. The ASPCA was not an unlawful participant in the raid. Their assistance was lawfully requested by the Sheriff of Madison County; however, the Sheriff and the ASPCA did not take the additional step of having the ASPCA officially appointed as an official agent of the State, a step they likely believed was unnecessary given the involvement of animal welfare groups in hundreds upon hundreds of animal cruelty raids and seizures in Florida previously.

It is a technicality that prevented the ASPCA from being awarded costs in the case, but it is by no means a vindication of Caboodle Ranch or an indication of any unlawful activity by the Sheriff or the ASPCA. The judge has never suggested or stated that the Sheriff or the ASPCA acted unlawfully.

Furthermore, the ASPCA did not violate any order of the court. Because the ASPCA is not a party in the custody hearing, it is not under the jurisdiction of the court, and not subject to the court’s injunction. Despite this, the ASPCA has complied with every order of the court. Caboodle Ranch may be confusing the actions of the local shelters and rescues which held adoption events with the actions of the ASPCA; these organizations were also not bound by (or named in) the court’s orders.

9. Why was the CR bond based on a spread sheet with no substantiating data?

The costs in the case were submitted under penalty of perjury. There was no reason to question the reality of the ASPCA’s expenses in the seizure, emergency medical treatment, and extended care of hundreds of abused cats. Had there been an issue of verification, the ASPCA could have provided documentation, but the judge may have felt there was no need for the court to pore over boxes of receipts at that time given that the ASPCA’s right to collect those costs was in question.

10. Why was the case moved from the county court with a $15K limit, to the circuit court, with a much higher limit? Who benefited? (not CR.)

Caboodle Ranch complained that the amount of the bond exceeded the $15K limit of the county court, but that limit specifies a limit on damages, not costs or bond amounts. The County motioned to transfer the case to a higher court under Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure, §1.060(a), which states: “If it should appear at any time that an action is pending in the wrong court of any county, it may be transferred to the proper court within said county…”

This negated Caboodle Ranch’s attempt to derail the proceedings. The hearing proceeded in circuit court, and Caboodle Ranch lost.

11. Three prosecution and one defense witness have testified under oath that they did not see any evidence of intentional animal cruelty at CR. Why is the state persisting to waste resources on the criminal case?

The suffering at Caboodle Ranch was very real, and heavily documented. While there is anecdotal evidence of Craig Grant roughly handling cats, there is no evidence that cats were physically abused in the sense of being kicked or struck; that is a different sort of cruelty than the deliberate neglect which he is currently charged with.

“Intentional animal cruelty” does not preclude criminal neglect.

Many witnesses testified that they did observe the suffering and neglect of hundreds of cats. Dozens of dead cats were found on the property, including two corpses decomposing in a vanity in the structure where Craig Grant slept. Caboodle Ranch’s own veterinarian stated that Craig Grant was unable to care for that many cats; that he had records for less than 200 of those cats, 50 of them deceased; that he did not disagree with the animal welfare experts who stated that “the sanctuary does not currently meet minimum guidelines for cat health and welfare”; that the Ranch did not comply with recommendations to fix those problems; that cats with dire and painful diseases were not humanely euthanized and were instead allowed to suffer, against the recommendations of Dr. Lewis and animal welfare experts.

The testimony of Caboodle Ranch’s vet, animal welfare experts, and law enforcement carries more weight than that of Caboodle Ranch volunteers who have been complicit in covering up and denying the suffering of the cats.

12. What can CR supporters do?

Stop supporting animal cruelty. Learn the facts of the case, and accept the indisputable fact that Caboodle Ranch allowed cats to suffer and die under horrible neglect.

And stop donating legal fees of a suspected animal abuser when there are cash-strapped organizations — and millions of cats — who are so much more worthy of your help.

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ASPCA Press Release: ASPCA Applauds Florida Court Decision

Jun 27 2012 Published by under Press Releases

ASPCA Applauds Florida Court Decision Placing Custody of Animals Seized From Caboodle Ranch, Inc. With Madison County Sheriff

Hundreds of ASPCA responders providing extensive care for animals in a temporary shelter since February

June 26, 2012

ASPCA Media Contact

NEW YORK — The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds the decision of the County Court, Third Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Fla., ordering the animals seized from Caboodle Ranch, Inc. (“Caboodle”) on February 27, 2012, as part of a criminal animal cruelty investigation, to be remanded to the custody of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. The Court stripped Caboodle, a Fla. not-for-profit corporation, of all right, title or interest in the animals seized from its facility in February and prohibited Caboodle from possessing other animals.

The ASPCA has managed the sheltering of the hundreds of animals (almost all cats) removed from the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions at Caboodle in Lee, Fla., approximately 64 miles east of Tallahassee, for the past four months.

“We are pleased that the Court so strongly affirmed what we knew to be true from our work on this case—that Caboodle has not provided adequate care for the animals in the past and is not fit to do so in the future,” said Stacy Wolf, vice president of the ASPCA.

“The Court’s decision has the best interest of the animals at heart,” said Tim Rickey, senior director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “As the Court noted, cats at Caboodle lived in filth; many were sick and in pain; hundreds of ASPCA responders have made an extraordinary effort to care for these cats over the past four months in order to bring them back to a basic level of health. Our hope is that we will soon be able to help them find the homes, special adoption arrangements or colonies they so richly deserve.”

Among some of the Court’s findings:

The evidence demonstrated “clearly and convincingly, that the Caboodle animals were not receiving proper and reasonable care while in the custody of Caboodle.” (Order ¶ 8)
“Caboodle’s own veterinarian testified that the number of animals on the Caboodle property on the date of the seizure significantly exceeded the limits he had recommended. . .” (Order ¶ 10f)
Caboodle “depended upon a continuing influx of new animals for its financial survival. It is more likely than not that Caboodle would continue to fail to abide by the recommendations of its own veterinarian regarding population limitations if the animals were returned.” (Order ¶ 10g)
“Sick animals were not adequately isolated. . .” (Order ¶ 10j)
“. . . Caboodle is clearly and substantially lacking in the resources, ability, skill and (most importantly) willingness to follow expert veterinary advice essential to an operation dedicated to the care of such a large and apparently ever-growing number of animals it seemed intent on sheltering.” (Order ¶ 11)

The following criminal charges are pending against the founder of Caboodle: one count of felony animal cruelty; three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty; and one count of scheming to defraud (felony).


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Order Placing Animals

Jun 25 2012 Published by under News

The final order in the custody hearing for the Caboodle Ranch cats has been handed down.

1. Judge Parker ordered that the animals remain in the custody of Sheriff Ben Stewart to dispose of as he sees fit. Caboodle has no further right, title, or interest in the Caboodle Animals.

2. Caboodle is enjoined (banned) from having possession or custody of live animals going forward. However, in the future Caboodle may petition the court for changes, modifications, or termination of the injunction. Upon receipt of the petition, the court will hold a hearing and Caboodle must provide evidence that it can care for animals in a responsible manner.

3. The Caboodle Animals shall not be released to the Sheriff until the court, in the Criminal Case, or State’s attorney, authorizes such release.

The judge goes into great detail explaining how he came to his decision.

The Order Placing Animals is now available in the Document Library.

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Dr. Lewis’ Testimony on Cross Examination in Civil Case

Jun 18 2012 Published by under Facts,News

Dr. Lewis, Caboodle Ranch’s official vet, was called as a witness on behalf of Craig Grant in the custody hearing for the cats on May 4, 2012. Dr. Lewis testified that Craig confided in him that he couldn’t afford care for current cats without donations that came in with new cats.

“So, it was a ‘Catch 22’ situation. Without the donations we couldn’t do the other stuff; without new cats, you couldn’t get the donations.” (pg. 18-19)

The full testimony is now available in the Document Library.

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Exhibits 14 through 16: Snapshots of Horror (And A Tale of Redemption)

May 27 2012 Published by under Facts,News

The following photos show graphic evidence of abuse at Caboodle Ranch. These images may be disturbing to sensitive viewers.

Exhibits 14, 15, and 16 presented the court with specific examples of the disease and neglect that characterized Caboodle Ranch.

Exhibit 14: Cat #029

Exhibit 14 chronicles the treatment of Cat #029, a male cat with an upper respiratory infection so severe that he is now completely blind.

This cat’s right eye had a mature cataract. The left eye had an enlarged cornea and conjunctivitis, with pus and discharge present, and a yellow abscess on the eyelid.

The pain was intense.

Cat #029’s toenails were painfully ingrown and had pierced the pads of the feet. His paws were swollen and leaking pus.

Medical notes also indicated that the cat was:

  • 10% dehydrated
  • hypothermic, with a temperature of 98.7, well below the feline average of 100.5 to 100.7
  • suffering from URI’s from 3 different infectious agents

Cat #029 had been tagged by Caboodle Ranch with the identification “10-4”: he was not feral.

Dr. John Lewis, Caboodle Ranch’s veterinarian, testified that this cat had never been presented to him for treatment, and that it required immediate medical care.

This image was taken on April 29th, 2012, after treatment.

The cat’s left eye was surgically removed. The right eye remains painful. He is completely blind. Overgrown nails were cut.

Approximate cost of treatment was $300 to $500.

Exhibit 15: Cat #039

Exhibit 15 chronicles the treatment of Cat #039, who essentially starved to death while under the care of Caboodle Ranch.

Cat #039 was severely emaciated, with infected teeth and gums that prevented him from eating comfortably. He suffered from severe diarrhea, was unable to move, and was covered in his own waste.

Cat #039 had lain in his own waste for so long, he suffered chemical burns from it.

Medical notes:

  • Body condition: 1 to 2/9
  • 8-10% dehydrated
  • 21% anemic
  • Ataxic (could not stand or walk)
  • Inflamed and receding gums
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Tested positive for 6 different conditions that cause diarrhea

Cat #039 was immediately transferred to a veterinary hospital and was given a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the veterinary staff, the cat could not be saved. He was humanely euthanized a few days after the rescue.

Exhibit 16: Cat #069

Exhibit 16 chronicles the treatment of Cat #069, a cat with an upper respiratory infection that led to neurological damage.

Cat #069’s story has a happy outcome, and a bright future.

Cat #069 suffered from a severe upper respiratory infection and a painfully ruptured eardrum.

Medical notes:

  • Body condition: 3/9
  • 21% anemic
  • Significant ocular and nasal discharge from URI
  • Suffered from two infections causing URI
  • Ear was filled with pus from a bacterial septic infection
  • Eardrum was painfully ruptured
  • Ataxic, unable to walk properly or hold up head
  • Neurological damage caused involuntary eye movements

Cat #069 was unable to reach food or water on his own, but with nutritional support and water, and treatment with antibiotics for the infections, he recovered.

A survivor.

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