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

May 27 2012 Published by under Facts,News

WARNING
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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Caboodle Ranch Custody Hearing: Exhibits 8 and 13

May 19 2012 Published by under Facts

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


These photographs were entered into evidence without objection by the defense. They are listed as Exhibits 8 and 13.

Map

A map of Caboodle Ranch.


Remains found near Building O


Decomposing remains found near Building O, in front of the General Store, concealed under an inverted dog carrier lid. Investigators were not initially able to see the cat, but found it due to the strong smell of decomposition.

The remains were covered with flies and maggots.


Trailer J

Maggot-infested remains of a cat found outside Trailer J.


Interior of Trailer J. The trailer was filthy: roaches, decomposing food, trash, and debris were found.


In the rear of the trailer was a vanity. Inside, two cats were found in advanced states of decomposition.


In the back room of Trailer J, a cat’s leg bone was found on a sleeping bag. Four cans of cat food were found; one can was full. The cans were not dirty and the food, although spoiled, was not rotten, which suggests they had been recently placed there for the cats.



Burial Ground

In the largely-unused burial ground in the back of Caboodle Ranch, three decomposing cats were found in partially-exposed trash bags. Investigators were able to remove the bags up without digging.



A decomposing cat was found lying nearby on the ground.


Cat remains near Security Building F

The scattered remains of a cat were found on the walk between the Sick Ward and the Security Building.




Security Building F interior

The room was littered with debris and fecal matter, and had a strong odor.


Vials for rabies shots bore an expiration date of August 2012.


The maggot-infested refrigerator in the Security Building contained wasted supplies, including a box of FeLV test kits.


Sick Ward exterior

The ASPCA testified that the horrible smell from the Sick Ward prevented him from staying in the building for more than five to ten minutes at a time. There was no proper ventilation for the sick cats.


Sick Ward interior

A lethargic tan Siamese in the Sick Ward had a swollen right eye and abnormal, swollen face. The cat’s eye had protruded back into its skull, eventually causing the skull to fracture. This cat had to be humanely euthanized.


This black and white cat in the Sick Ward was unable to move. His fur was soiled with feces and urine, and his legs were crusted.


Two cats in the back of a cabinet in the Sick Ward. The cat in the rear had swollen eyes, the left sunken into the skull. It had difficulty standing.

Both cats had accumulated mucus on nose and eyes, and difficulty breathing.


The ASPCA testified to the large number of cats in this area, and to the fact that the windows were hazy with blood and mucus from sneezing cats. [Editor’s note: also seen in the PeTA video.] The cats had runny eyes and noses, and the sound of sneezing and labored breathing could be heard throughout the Sick Ward. The floor was smeared with feces.

Dr. Miller, a veterinarian and shelter expert, later testified that there were 55 cats in the Sick Ward trailer, and 45 of those (82%) had upper respiratory infections.


General Store

The first floor of the General Store held numerous sick cats with sneezing, discharge from the nose and eyes, and labored breathing. Floors throughout the General Store were soiled with vomit and feces. The ASPCA witness testified that the stench of urine could be smelled before entering the building.

Dr. Miller testified that 59 cats were taken from the General Store, and 41 of those (69%) had upper respiratory infections.

Only two food and water bowls were available. The rubber bins used as litter boxes were completely full.


The second floor of the General Store was also filled with litter, feces, and flies. Litter boxes were full, and inadequate for the number of cats in the building. Windows were clouded with mucus. The dirty water in the water bowls is plainly visible in the photographs.


A female cat with two kittens was found. The kittens were unable to open their eyes due to crusted mucus. The mother suffered from a URI, with mucus in mouth and nose. She was found in the Kennel Room.

Dr. Miller testified that 12 of the cats (20%) taken from the General Store were FeLV-positive.
Nineteen of the cats (32%) taken from this location were FIV-positive.


The ASPCA testified that they heard a cat yowling, and on investigating, they found this cat in need of immediate medical attention. Half of the cat’s body was soaked in his own urine and feces, because he was unable to move from the pain.

After being rushed to the ER facility, veterinarians were had to humanely euthanize the cat 48 hours later.

This cat’s horrifying condition is detailed in Dr. Miller’s testimony, with documents entered into evidence as Exhibit 13.


Exhibit 13: Grey Cat



Dr. Miller testified that:

  • The cat had life-threatening conditions because he was hypothermic with a temperature of 93.6 degrees, and was 8% dehydrated.
  • The cat was unable to walk or stand, and could not get to food on his own.
  • He was covered in urine and feces.
  • His legs were rigid and he could not move them; he had slow withdrawal reflexes.
  • He had a head tilt and tremors, signs of neurological damage.
  • The cat’s body condition was 2/9.


The cat meowed in pain throughout the examination. Pain was present in all limbs, as evidenced by increased heart rate and vocalizations when the cat’s extremities were examined.


The material on the stick is pus and debris removed from the cat’s ear. Testing revealed a bacterial infection, strep infection, and yeast infection.


A bacterial skin rash, possibly due to flea infestation, is documented.


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Exhibits and Testimony from the Caboodle Ranch Custody Hearing

May 18 2012 Published by under Facts,News

Caboodle Ranch trustee Elise Perkins has generously provided her notes on the testimony of Jamie Willoughby, Madison County Animal Control Officer.

As recounted in the notes, the sworn testimony contradicts previous statements by Nanette Entriken and Craig Grant on the Caboodle Ranch blog.

For example, the Caboodle Ranch blog states: “Caboodle Ranch was inspected by animal control every three months.” However, Jamie Willoughby’s testimony states that he had been to the Ranch only half a dozen times in the six to seven years he has been in contact with Caboodle Ranch, far less than the twenty or more visits Caboodle Ranch claims.

This is just one of many contradictions between the sworn testimony in court and the story Caboodle Ranch told its donors.

Further notes and the official transcripts will be posted as they become available.

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