24 September 2012

Even More on Caboodles

From Caboodles Facebook page.  This is a piece written by "Dale."  It just proves that the ASPCA is writing from that same playbook I mentioned a few posts below: Seize the animals, cite a law, charge the owner with felonies, charge him with care fees until he relinquishes the animals, adopt them out.

Killing a Dream

A cat started it all. Nothing much to look at, just an ordinary calico cat that wandered into a home, a heart, and a new life.

Craig Grant had to decide if he was going to care for the cat his son could not take, or leave it to an uncertain, but likely cruel fate. But it wasn’t his decision to make. It was Pepper’s. And Pe 

pper became Craig’s cat.

And one cat became two, and then two more, and finally the flock overwhelmed the heart and became bigger than the house. So Craig did what he knew he was meant to do. He became the savior of cats. The shepherd of lost kittens. The kind of man with the kind of dream America needs. He knew he had to save, not kill. Create, not destroy. Define your dream, marshal all your resources, and do it.

So with his goal in mind, Craig used all his savings, his creativity, and his persistence to build what would become Caboodle Ranch, the largest free-range cat sanctuary in the world (Guinness Book of World Records, 2012).

He searched for the right kind of property. One with no restrictions on the numbers ofanimals. Maybe in a poor county, where he could offer jobs to local people and others could benefit. And in 2003, he found the right spot. Thirty acres of woods in Madison CountyFlorida. This was ranch country, so his daughter named the spread the Caboodle Ranch. And a magical place was born.

There were a few cats at first, but as the word got out that there was a place that could give cats a second chance at life, a place where feral cats, sick cats, old unadoptable cats, could live without cages and without the constant threat of the needle, well, in 2003, the cats started coming.

By January of 2012, 653 cats lived a happy, safe life at Caboodle Ranch. By March of 2012, the cats were gone. What happened? Where did the cats go? And why were they taken? There were two reasons, one local and one political.

For some unknown reason, the Madison County Board of Commissioners decided the county really, really needed an ordinance to control the number of animals allowed on 2 1/2 acres or more. Not the cattle or goats, or bison, but the cats or dogs. It was very important to have this ordinance, so the Excess Animal Habitat Ordinance was created. The EAH would limit the number to 30, but a sanctuary could apply for a permit, if it could meet all the requirements that the county could think of. And Craig applied for the permit and began to work.

So while he sweated and worked, and thought he was exactly on the right track, and spent thousands on fencing and barns, and whatever they came up with next, the raid was being planned. Craig was given a deadline of March 27 to finish all the requirements for the permit, but a month before the deadline, they struck.

On February 27, 2012, the rainiest day in Florida in months, the Sheriff’s Department, the ASPCA, and hundreds of volunteers from rescue groups flown in from all over the country, poured onto the ranch. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Craig Grant for animal abuse. The raiders chased the terrified cats, caught them and put them into carriers and then into a truck. They turned over the charming little buildings; they tore down part of the fencing; they carted away Craig’s files, his money, his medicines, his dream.

The cats were put in cages in an unused shelter in Jacksonville. Everyone was assured that this would be over soon, and the cats, at least those that were adoptable, would soon be happier than they ever dreamed. Those that were still alive, that is. The ASPCA , the victorious rescuers of already rescued cats, they announced the incredible victory over a hoarder, a criminal abuser, someone who should never, never even hold a cat again.

There were hearings to be heard, and trials to be tried, and all the while the cats were in cages in a hot building in Florida all through March, April, May, June, July, and part of August. The cost didn’t matter, as the ASPCA had told the sheriff the raid wouldn’t cost the county a penny. After all, donations funded all the ASPCA rescues. That was such a coup for the county. No more Caboodle cats that annoyed somebody, somewhere enough to want to wipe them off the map.

Victory is ours, said the ASPCA, but you know what? Let’s see if we can have the Sheriff get Caboodle Ranch pay us back for our expenses. Even though we don’t have to do that, our donations take care of rescue events, why, we have spent $700,000 on car rentals, $150,000 on airline tickets, $15,000 on pheromones to calm the cats and just a teeny, teeny bit on Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen! Maybe we can get a few nickels from the broken man. The costs hearing is being scheduled.

So for months the cats lived in their cages. They had vet care, just like they did at the ranch. They had ample food, just like they had at the ranch. They had volunteers to watch over them, but they didn’t have their Papa. They didn’t have their freedom, and some of them soon, wouldn’t have their lives.

Oh, there was another reason for the raid. A political one. Some annoying legislators wanted to pass a law making it illegal for shelters to kill an animal when a qualified non-profit rescue organization is willing to save that animal. Some people didn’t want that law. No-kill shelters might end up as hoarders by taking in more animals than they could handle. It could happen. It might be kinder to the animals if they died before they could suffer the abuse of over-crowding. Keep them in the kill shelters.

How can that proposed law be stopped? How about if someone makes an incriminating, misleading video of a sanctuary, then persuades the sheriff to take the video as evidence of abuse to the state attorney, who after considering the possibilities, decides to press charges against the sanctuary. A huge, dramatic raid would be a perfect public relations event. Let’s do it.

So they did. And with the raid, the accusations, the hearings, the trials, the legal fees, they—the unknowns who wanted Caboodle to be a memory—they broke the man. They “disposed” of almost all of his cats, and in spite of a court order demanding that the ASPCA make a good faith effort to locate and identify Craig’s personal pets, Tommy, Meatball, Toot, Snoop Dog, and Crackers, Craig hasn’t seen any of his cats for months. The ASPCA was also asked to keep them from being adopted, and to hold them until the court decides to end Craig’s despair, and return them to him. Nobody knows where they are or if they are even alive. And the ridiculous charges of animal abuse against the cat man still loom.

There is already a book called An American Tragedy, so I won’t borrow that title, but the name fits. Caboodle Ranch has been taken from Craig Grant, but also from all the people who had lost jobs, then houses, and found a home for their beloved pets at the ranch. It’s lost to the shelters that were overcrowded, who knew Craig would take in their excess cats. It’s lost to the tourists and visitors who came by the hundreds, and then spent their money in local shops. It’s lost to the volunteers who got so much personal satisfaction because they knew they were helping families and animals and Craig.

The trials and hearings are not over. For Craig, the threat of jail time exists; the threat of poverty is real. The legal bills are huge, but thousands of Caboodle Ranch fans are praying for Craig to prevail, and are sending donations, writing letters, sharing the story on Facebook and Twitter.

Out of the ashes a new Caboodle Ranch will be born, but certainly not in Madison County, Florida. And a new group of unwanted, unloved cats or just plain unlucky cats, will be given a second chance at life. And, as he was meant do to, at the helm will be Craig Grant, a man building his dream.

1 comment:

  1. Very good of you to pull the covers on these Bastards. The list goes on, not to take away from your story, but in an addition to an aquaintance of mine lost everything about 5 years ago in Pioneertown close to Palm Springs when we had all those fires.

    The only thing that these so called "disaster relief" agencies did was show up to pat themselves on there backs at every press conference. Only to disappear aferward! These cocksuckers gave nothing and did not a fucking thing with all the free money given to them. My aquaintance. was at every meeting, press conference etc.