New Update, April 4, 2012
April 2, 2012 From Dana Strunk, Caboodle Ranch Anti-Animal Cruelty Advocate: A group of donors and former owners of cats relinquished to a nonprofit cat sanctuary known as Caboodle Ranch are coming together to file a class action lawsuit against founder Craig Grant, who was arrested Feb. 27 in the wake of a multi-agency rescue of almost 700 cats from the property. It is one of the largest rescues of animals from a hoarding case in U.S. history.
Records from Caboodle Ranch, located in Lee, Fla., indicate that Grant embezzled and misappropriated donations intended to cover care of the cats for his own personal use. Numerous financial transactions recorded on Caboodle Ranch's 501(c)3 non-profit account show such items as airline flights, trips to Las Vegas, tickets to Disney on Ice and Daytona 500, purchases at Toys R Us, hotels, online clothing orders, online magazine orders, and gifts. Grant also admitted in court records that he did not routinely record cash donations.
For more information, see the announcement on the Caboodle Ranch Anti-Cruelty Case Information Website. For my readers, I remind you that in a criminal trial, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, while in civil court, the preponderance of the evidence determines the winner.
Update March 2, 2012 9: p.m. ET:
An article today in the Tampa Bay Times sheds some hopeful light on the location and condition of nearly 700 cats taken Monday from Caboodle Ranch in Madison County. According to the article written by Leonora LaPeter Anton, Times Staff Writer, the cats are now confined in an abandoned warehouse west of Jacksonville, being treated by ASPCA veterinary personnel, along with volunteers, 125 in total, including veterinarians from other areas. Anton wrote that the cats are being separated into different areas according to their medical conditions, "Cats with ringworm, feline AIDS and leukemia in one area. Cats with upper respiratory ailments and eye infections in another. Feral cats in yet another." "The animals will stay at the Jacksonville facility until either Grant agrees to relinquish them or they are awarded to the ASPCA, a process that could take up to 60 days." Read the complete Times article for more information and photos.
March 2, 2012, 4 a.m. ET: Update: In searching for additional news, I came across a Facebook Page: Caboodle Ranch: Save the kitties, which claims non-profit status. The "Info" tab in the left sidebar does not identify the owner(s), nor do they identify themselves in the wall posts. The Evidence tab in the sidebar reveals potentially damning evidence against Craig Grant, dating back to 2009. (These copies of documents are in PDF format.) The general theme of the Facebook Page is that Craig Grant fits the profile of the typical cat hoarder, including denial and cover-up.
I also found a YouTube video of Madison, County Florida Sheriff Ben Stewart, explaining the process of the Caboodle Ranch search and seizure. He divulged that Madison County had contracted with the ASPCA, which he described as a "middle-of-the-road" organization, to perform the search and seizure of the Caboodle Ranch cats. Sheriff Stewart said that the contract was at no cost to Madison County, and that the ASPCA expects to spend around $3 million - that the animals will not be killed, but will be provided with veterinary treatment and care at an undisclosed location. He further stated that no other personnel would be allowed on Caboodle Ranch - only ASPCA personnel and the Sheriff's Office people, and he specifically mentioned PeTA as being disallowed on the premises.
I'll add more information as it becomes available. However, in the meantime, I would remind my readers that under the U.S. Judicial System, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and to please keep that in mind when posting your comments.
Original Update 3/01/2012:
As the debate continues to rage both on my original blog of Monday, 2/27/12, and throughout the country on other blogs and websites, Craig Grant has posted bond and has been released from jail, staying at an unknown location. He posted on the Caboodle Ranch blog yesterday afternoon:
This is Craig. . .
Lawyers for the ranch will make a statement later once we get to the bottom of all this. . . I feel very sick and in a daze right now. My happiness, my life and the lives of my 600 babies are being destroyed.
Monday morning a swat team came in gun to my head took me to jail on what they said was a misdemeanor charge. A long line of vehicles waited outside the ranch as I was taken away. I think one was ASPCA. I posted bail the same day, but I'm not allowed back at the ranch. I have no idea what's taking place there.
You may read the remainder of Mr. Grant's nessage on his blog.
I will continue to follow this story as more details unfold.