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[UPDATE] Caboodle Ranch Owner Speaks Out

By: Jacquie Slater Email
By: Jacquie Slater Email

 


[UPDATE] Madison County, Florida - April 4, 2012-

The little houses at the Caboodle Ranch used to be filled with cats. Now, they're empty. Craig Grant. the owner of the ranch,wants them to come home.

"It's one big happy family. And if you look at some of the Youtube video, and I encourage people to do that, you'll see the cats hanging out together. And that's something people just don't believe, is how well they all get a long out here. There's no fighting," said Grant.

Grant was arrested back on February 27th. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals arrived that day to perform what they say was a rescue mission.

"I would more commonly characterize it as a raid, not an investigation, was done by a, a private interest group, not located in this county, that had an agenda. And it was a very one sided raid," said Chuck Collins, an attorney representing Grant in the case.

Grant's on-site manager, Nanette Entricken,said her own personal cats were also taken from her home.

"They've been gone to me five weeks today, and um, they refuse to return them, because they claim they're state evidence even though they've never been on the ranch," said Entricken.

For now, Grant and Entricken focus on improving the property. They requested a permit to upgrade the facility. A custody hearing for the cats was postponed this week so the County can review the request.

"To even remotely characterize this for one minute as criminal activity I believe is outrageous. And we we look very forward to defending it in court," said Collins.

"We keep fighting because we're not gonna stop until they come home. Both the Caboodle cats and my own. Because what was done was a total violation of our rights, and their rights," said Entricken.

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[UPDATE] Madison County, Florida - April 4, 2012 -

Caboodle Ranch owner Craig Grant is facing a class action lawsuit. Now, his attorney is speaking out. Grant was arrested following a PETA investigation back in February. Craig pled not guilty to animal cruelty charges. His attorney said anyone filing suit against his client should make sure they have their facts straight.

"I think that consulting the local veterinarians, animal control officer, even the state attorney's office, might be a good idea to marshall the truthful facts, rather than rely upon blogs by outside interest groups," says David Collins, attorney for Caboodle Ranch owner Craig Grant.

The ASPCA removed 692 cats from the ranch in what they call a rescue mission. People involved in the suit say grant used donations to the ranch for personal expenses.

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[UPDATE] Madison County, Florida - April 2, 2012 -

692 cats were removed from the property known as the Caboodle Ranch in February. Property owner Craig Grant was arrested at that time.

"Mr. Grant professes, and vigorously maintains, his innocence," said Grant's attorney, David Collins.

Grant would take in unwanted cats for a $100.00 fee. Grant said that money was for food and care for the cats.

Donors to the ranch who've filed suit claim Grant misused that money .

In a press release, they stated they have proof Grant used funds for, "numerous financial transactions such as airline flights, trips to Las Vegas, tickets to Disney On Ice, and Daytona 500."

"What does anyone get out of it? Outside of this guy is gonna maybe lose everything he has. No one else is gonna gain anything from it. The animals are already gone. They're safe. Who's gonna gain?" said George King, a Monticello resident.

Grant's attorney said his client has records of over ninety-thousand dollars in vet bills. He said people filing suit should get their facts straight before proceeding.

"I think that consulting the local veterinarians, animal control officer, even the state attorney's office, might be a good idea to marshall the truthful facts, rather than rely upon blogs by outside interest groups," said Collins.

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[UPDATE] Madison County, Florida -- April 2, 2012 --

Donors, cat owners to file class action lawsuit against Caboodle Ranch

Suit Accuses Founder Craig Grant of Consumer Fraud

April 2, 2012 – 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.

One couple involved in the lawsuit is Larry and Ann Bechler, who rescue and rehome stray and feral cats. 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.

When the Bechlers left the ranch that day, they had a gut feeling that something was wrong. They returned the next day to retrieve their cats, but one, Emma, was nowhere to be found. The Bechlers made several trips back to Caboodle Ranch to look for Emma but never located her. “What a lucrative business charging desperate, caring people to take homeless cats at $100 to $200 each,” Ann said. “When they die a month later, he just takes more.”

In addition to using donations for personal activities, financial records show that Grant also used donations to pay for his personal assets. All of Caboodle Ranch's land, vehicles, and buildings are owned by Grant. The organization itself has no physical assets. Grant has stated in interviews that he as founder of Caboodle Ranch he got $1000 a month in salary. Any personal expenses he had were legally required to come from his salary, not ranch funds.

Grant was arrested Feb. 27 and charged with one count of felony animal cruelty, three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, and one count of scheming to defraud. Bond was set at $250,000, and he posted bail later that day. Grant was set to plead not guilty to the charges during arraignment on April 2.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at the request of the Madison County Sheriff's Office and Madison County Animal Control in northern Florida, has led the rescue of almost 700 cats from Caboodle Ranch beginning Feb. 27. Animal welfare organizations reported that many of the cats showed signs of severe neglect and were suffering from upper respiratory conditions, ringworm, intestinal parasites, fur loss, and eye infections among other medical issues. Responders also uncovered numerous deceased cats on the property.

Agencies assisting the ASPCA on scene include Atlanta Humane Society (Atlanta, Ga.); Bay Area Disaster Animal Response Team (Belleair Bluffs, Fla.); Cat Depot (Sarasota, Fla.); Florida State Animal Response Coalition (Bushnell, Fla.); Good Mews Animal Foundation (Marietta, Ga.); Humane Society of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.); International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, Mass.); McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center (Chattanooga, Tenn.); PetSmart Charities, Inc. (Phoenix, Ariz.); and RedRover (Sacramento, Calif.). Staff from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at University of Florida-Gainesville are also assisting with the operation.

As of Feb. 27, the ASPCA had spent an estimated $200,000 on this large-scale rescue, an amount that continues to grow daily.

The rescue comes in the wake of an investigation of Caboodle Ranch by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, whose undercover investigator worked as a volunteer at the ranch for five months. Video and photos taken by the investigator show cats suffering from upper-respiratory infections so severe that they gasped for air and struggled to breathe, drooled, and had bloody mucus clogging their noses. Cats had untreated ulcerated corneas that ruptured, causing them to go blind and in some cases die.

The organizers of this class action lawsuit have consulted with Attorney Lucas Taylor from Madison County, Fla., who has been involved in litigation against Grant for nearly two years. Anyone who has made monetary donations or donated goods to Caboodle Ranch and/or has rehomed to the care of Caboodle Ranch is eligible to join the lawsuit. Dana Strunk, one of the organizers, is proposing that proceeds from the case be donated to the animal welfare agencies involved in the rescue and care of the cats. For more information regarding the lawsuit, contact (888) 950-4919 or email classactionsuit.caboodleranch@gmail.com.

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[UPDATE] Madison County, Florida -- April 2, 2012 --

A Florida man wants nearly 700 cats removed from his cat sanctuary to be returned to his care.

An attorney says Craig Grant is seeking a permit from the Madison County Commission to upgrade the Caboodle Ranch about 60 miles east of Tallahassee.

David Collins tells The Florida Times-Union (http://bit.ly/HeePT3 ) that his client will plead not guilty to multiple animal cruelty charges at his arraignment Tuesday.

Collins says a hearing Wednesday to determine who will care for the cats was postponed while the commission considers the permit request.

Officials say many of the cats removed in February are still being treated for various ailments. Cats that can be traced to owners who want them will be returned. Adoptions for the rest must wait for the criminal case against Grant to conclude.

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[UPDATE] Madison County, Florida -- March 19, 2012 --

The ASPCA has established a hotline and email system regarding the rescue of nearly 700 cats from Caboodle Ranch. We would like to remind the public that these animals are considered evidence in an open investigation, and the cats have not been signed over to the ASPCA. People who have relinquished their pets to Caboodle Ranch who would like to leave information about their pets can do so at the number and email provided below.

ASPCA hotline: 866-816-4804
ASPCA email: infoFIR@aspca.org

The Madison County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the disposition hearing to determine the custody of the cats is scheduled on March 28.

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UPDATE -- March 1, 2012 --

A massive cat rescue in Madison County has led to a late session request from an animal rights group.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants Florida lawmakers to stop a bill called the "Animal Rescue Act".

At a press conference this afternoon, PETA said if this bill moves forward, animal shelters will be forced to turn over animals to so called animal sanctuaries like the Caboodle Ranch. Supporters of the bill say its purpose is to stop unnecessary euthanizations.
Representative Joseph Abruzzo is one of the creators of the bill. He said he's an animal lover and doesn't support animal hoarding. He said the bill will most likely not be brought up for vote this session. PETA says if passed,it will create more problems and cost tax payers millions.

Abruzzo says, ""It's a work in progress and something that I wanna work with all the different animal rights groups. From the Humane Society to No kill to PETA, bring everybody together and try to create a good product that can benefit our animals here."

Daphna Nachminovitch,PETA , says, "We have seen the consequences of similar legislation in California where a very similar bill is now, the governor is trying to repeal it."

PETA says in California it cost taxpayers about twenty four million dollars. The proposed bill would require animal control agencies to offer animals to rescue groups before euthanizing them. PETA is concerned they will see more extreme cases like Caboodle Ranch. As for the rescue effort at Caboodle Ranch, ASPCA officials say they have removed more than 637 cats from the property. PETA said many of those animals are requiring critical care. Its unknown how many may have been euthanized at this point

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[UPDATE] Feb. 29, 2012 - Noon -

The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), under the authority of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Madison County Animal Control in northern Florida, is managing the medical triage and sheltering of more than 600 cats removed from the Caboodle Ranch cat sanctuary on February 27 in Lee, Fla., approximately 64 miles east of Tallahassee. The animals are currently housed at a temporary shelter in Jacksonville, where veterinary, sheltering, and behavior teams are assessing, diagnosing, treating and caring for the cats.

More cats are expected to be removed from the sanctuary property and transported to the temporary shelter over the next couple of days. This is the largest number of cats the ASPCA has ever seized in an animal cruelty investigation.

Many of the cats exhibited signs of neglect and were suffering from upper respiratory infections, skin conditions and eye infections, among other medical issues. Several cats were in dire need of medical treatment, and responders discovered a number of deceased cats on the property, in addition to burial sites. Forensic necropsies will be conducted on those remains to determine the causes of death and will be submitted to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office to support its investigation.

“When you’re working with such a large number of cats in a confined space, the main concern is the spread of infectious diseases,” said Dr. Rhonda Windham, medical director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “So far we have triaged, medically treated and provided supportive care to critically sick cats, and performed extensive diagnostic testing for respiratory and skin diseases. We’ve also been able to provide preventative care to those cats that have had medical examinations to get them on the road to recovery. We will continue to provide medical care and monitoring, and then begin to assess each cat’s behavior.”

On February 27, the founder and operator of Caboodle Ranch, Craig Grant, was arrested on an issued warrant ordering the Madison County Sheriff’s Office to take him into custody. He was charged with the following: one count of felony animal cruelty; three counts of cruelty to animals; and one count of scheming to defraud.

“The cats are considered evidence in this investigation, and any additional charges against Mr. Grant will be determined based on the medical conditions and evidence reported by the ASPCA,” said Sheriff Ben Stewart with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. “The Madison County Sheriff’s Office appreciates the public’s support and hopes these animals can move on to a better place soon.”

The ASPCA’s anti-cruelty behavior team will remain at the temporary shelter to monitor the cats’ personality and temperament, and to observe how the cats interact with each other in a group housing environment. The ASPCA will work on placement of the animals once the final disposition has been determined by the prosecutor.

More than 100 responders from 11 agencies are assisting the ASPCA with the investigation, including staff and volunteers from the following organizations: Atlanta Humane Society (Atlanta, Ga.); Bay Area Disaster Animal Response Team (Belleair Bluffs, Fla.); Cat Depot (Sarasota, Fla.); Florida State Animal Response Coalition (Bushnell, Fla.); Good Mews Animal Foundation (Marietta, Ga.); Humane Society of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.); International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, Mass.); McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center (Chattanooga, Tenn.); PetSmart Charities, Inc. (Phoenix, Ariz.); RedRover (Sacramento, Calif.); and Sumter DART (Bushnell, Fla.). Staff from the University of Florida (Gainesville) College of Veterinary Medicine and Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at UF are also assisting with the rescue operation.

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Tallahassee, Fla. — PETA will hold a news conference just days after an undercover investigation prompted Madison County law-enforcement officials to seize hundreds of cats from "no kill" cat "sanctuary" Caboodle Ranch, Inc., and call on Florida Rep. Joseph Abruzzo and Sen. Mike Bennett to withdraw the attractively named but sure-to-be harmful "Animal Rescue Act" (H.B. 597 and S.B. 818), the bill they sponsored that would force animal shelters to hand over animals to purported "rescues" like Caboodle. Pointing out that Caboodle is one of many recently busted hoarding "rescues," PETA will screen video footage from its five-month investigation, which found systemic and fatal neglect at exactly the kind of "rescue sanctuary" the bill would allow to thrive to the detriment of homeless animals:

When: Thursday, March 1, 12 noon

Where: Governors Inn, 209 S. Adams St., Tallahassee

Room, Tallahassee

Florida-based animal protection agencies—including the Florida Animal Control Association, the Suncoast Humane Society, Tallahassee Animal Services, Central Brevard Humane Society, and Leon County Animal Control—have voiced opposition to the bill because of its expected impact on the welfare of animals and the state's existing budgets. If passed, the act is expected to increase disease transmission, lead to overcrowding, and result in animals warehoused at facilities like Caboodle.

"PETA's investigation of Caboodle Ranch shows exactly why Florida's 'Animal Rescue Act' is dangerous and irresponsible," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Animal shelters will have no choice but to hand animals over to self-proclaimed 'sanctuaries'—a surefire way to sentence unwanted dogs and cats to a lifetime of neglect and suffering at the hands of hoarders."

PETA's video footage of Caboodle shows cats suffering from severe respiratory infections and gasping for air as mucus drips from their noses, cats covered with flies and confined to areas littered with vomit and waste, and maggots crawling in areas in which medical supplies were stored. Craig Grant, Caboodle's founder and operator, was arrested and charged with felony cruelty to animals on Monday.

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[UPDATE] Feb. 28, 2012 - Noon -

The rescue mission involving hundreds of cats at The Caboodle Ranch in Madison County continues. The owner of the ranch, faces multiple charges including felony cruelty to animals.

Eyewitness News spoke to the Madison County Sheriff's Office and they said Craig Grant, who was arrested Monday morning, has posted bond and was released from custody. The ASPCA said rescue efforts were tough yesterday because of the heavy rain. They were out again early this morning.

An undercover investigation by PETA led to the ASPCA being called in to assist. Officials for both agencies say around seven hundred cats were living in deplorable conditions. Many of the cats have serious health issues. This morning, a spokesperson for the ASPCA said last night they took 67 cats off of the property. The cats are being brought to an emergency shelter to be evaluated. They hope to have all of the animals at the shelter by the end of the day today.

The ASPCA says they are getting calls from people concerned about cats they left at the ranch and people wanting to adopt. They want to stress that at this time the cats are considered evidence in an ongoing investigation. They say their main focus is on getting the cats back to health. If and when they become available for adoption we will of course let people know.

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Eyewitness News originally featured Craig Grant as A Person You Should Know. Now, the Madison County Sheriff's Office says he may have had everyone fooled. He was arrested earlier this morning and faces charges including felony animal cruelty, cruelty to animals and scheme to fraud.

Craig Grant, in 2010, said, ""Well, we're gonna be ok. As long as you're willing to make the changes, there won't be a problem."

That was Craig Grant in 2010.

An undercover investigation by PETA showed cats living in filth. Many of them with severe health issues. ASPCA officials say they believe there are around seven hundred cats on the property.

Tim Rickey with ASPCA, says, "This is not, a, these conditions didn't occur overnight. This is something that accumulates over a number of years and, you know, daily neglect."

The ASPCA brought a team of about 150 people to assist in the removal of the cats. They also called in the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Shannon Walajatys, Disaster Response Team IFAW, says, "We'll probably be on site providing forensic support and then the rest of our teams will be providing sheltering support."

Officials started carting the cats out around 6 pm on Monday. They say the process will take days. A temporary shelter has been set up to house the animals.

Grant allowed visitors to the ranch. One couple showed up Monday and said they had made an appointment.
For now, that visit will have to wait.

Monique Vandjik, a visitor from Holland, says, "I know it got way out of hand. When you have so many cats, its hard to keep them healthy so I understand that it, it took out of control."

ASPCA officials say they will have a better idea of the cats' conditions tomorrow.They say the top priority is getting them back to health.

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Lee, Fla. — Feb. 27, 2012 -

See WCTV's original story on Caboodle Ranch here .

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), at the request of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Madison County Animal Control in northern Florida, is managing the removal and sheltering of hundreds of cats living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions from a non-profit cat sanctuary known as Caboodle Ranch in Lee, Fla., approximately 64 miles east of Tallahassee, Fla. This is the largest number of cats the ASPCA has ever removed from one location in an animal cruelty investigation.

As a result of an investigation spanning for more than a year, a search warrant was executed Monday morning for the removal of the animals. The ASPCA is collecting additional evidence on the property for the investigation, as well as leading the removal and sheltering efforts with its Field Investigation and Response and Animal Forensics teams. The founder of Caboodle Ranch has been arrested and multiple animal cruelty charges are pending.

“After receiving numerous complaints regarding the care of animals at Caboodle Ranch, we’re glad that the appropriate enforcement action is being taken,” said Sheriff Ben Stewart with the Madison County Sheriff's’s Office. “This has been an ongoing issue that we’ve been monitoring and we’re grateful that the ASPCA is able to provide assistance with the investigation.”

“The ASPCA is pleased to be able to provide expertise and resources to support the efforts of the local authorities in investigating this ‘sanctuary’ that spiraled out of control,” added Tim Rickey, senior director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “This is a tragic situation. Caboodle Ranch was clearly overwhelmed with hundreds of cats in dire need of medical treatment, and the sanctuary had no adoption program or any spay/neuter efforts to effectively manage its current population. The ASPCA’s goal is to work quickly to remove these cats from the property and safely transport them to the temporary shelter, where they will be triaged by a veterinary team.”

The cats were living outside in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with various medical issues that were left untreated. Many of the cats exhibited various signs of neglect and appear to be suffering from upper respiratory conditions and eye infections, among other medical issues. Several cats were in critical condition and responders discovered numerous deceased cats on the property.

Agencies assisting the ASPCA on scene include: Atlanta Humane Society (Atlanta, Ga.); Bay Area Disaster Animal Response Team (Belleair Bluffs, Fla.); Cat Depot (Sarasota, Fla.); Florida State Animal Response Coalition (Bushnell, Fla.); Good Mews Animal Foundation (Marietta, Ga.); Humane Society of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.); International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, Mass.); McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center (Chattanooga, Tenn.); PetSmart Charities, Inc. (Phoenix, Ariz.); and RedRover (Sacramento, Calif.). Staff from the University of Florida (Gainesville) College of Veterinary Medicine and Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at UF are also assisting with the rescue operation.

“Removing hundreds of animals is a huge undertaking, and we are truly grateful that these agencies offered their assistance in the case,” said Kathryn Destreza, director of Investigations for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team. “Numerous agencies throughout Florida and as far as California have committed to helping us continue our life-saving work and giving these rescued animals a second chance.”

The cats will be transferred via the ASPCA’s animal transport trailer to a temporary shelter at an undisclosed location, where ASPCA medical director Dr. Rhonda Windham will oversee their medical triage. To assist in the triage, the ASPCA has on scene its fully equipped “Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit,” a specially-designed vehicle outfitted with state-of-the-art forensic tools as well as medical equipment tailored for animal patients.

The undercover investigation was set into motion after complaints about the facility were received by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA submitted its evidence to the Third Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, and Madison County Animal Control. The ASPCA was contacted for assistance in the criminal investigation, evidence collection, rescue and sheltering efforts of the case.

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PETA Release

Today, based on evidence gathered during a PETA undercover investigation, Madison County law-enforcement officials, with the aid of humane organizations, are seizing hundreds of animals from so-called "sanctuary" Caboodle Ranch, Inc. PETA's five-month investigation found systemic and sometimes fatal neglect of animals at the "rescue sanctuary," which has long been a source of complaints registered to PETA.

Video footage taken by a PETA investigator shows cats suffering from upper-respiratory infections so severe that the animals gasped for air and struggled to breathe, as mucus dripped from their noses. One cat, Lilly, was left to languish for months with a perforated cornea and eventually died. PETA's investigator found cats covered with flies and confined to areas littered with vomit, waste, and trash. Areas in which medical drugs were stored were crawling with maggots. PETA submitted detailed complaints to county officials and the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida State Attorney Robert L. Jarvis. Cruelty-to-animals charges against Craig Grant, Caboodle Ranch's founder and operator, are pending.

"Cats at Caboodle Ranch suffered from open wounds, debilitating respiratory disease, parasites, eye ulcerations, and more," says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. "'No-kill' was really 'slow-kill' for hundreds of cats in this grossly inhumane 'cat ranch.'"

"Cats at Caboodle Ranch suffered from open wounds, debilitating respiratory disease, parasites, eye ulcerations, and more," says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. "'No-kill' was really 'slow-kill' for hundreds of cats in this grossly inhumane 'cat ranch.'"

PETA's investigator documented the following:

· Grant knowingly deprived cats of emergency veterinary care—and some cats died as a result. Grant allowed cats afflicted with parasites and fatal, transmissible viruses to spread the diseases and allowed others to breed.

· Grant intentionally hid—and instructed others to hide from visitors—cats who were clearly in need of medical care that he was not providing.

· Caboodle Ranch consisted of dilapidated, moldy trailers and severely crowded kennels. It had no full-time help to care for nearly 500 cats.

PETA is also submitting formal complaints to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and to the Internal Revenue Service asking that Grant be investigated and charged accordingly.


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