Cat sanctuary shut down, 700 cats rescued

Feb. 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM
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LEE, Fla., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- An estimated 700 cats, many of them sick, were removed from a Florida cat sanctuary after the owner was arrested for animal cruelty, officials said.

Craig Grant, administrator of the non-profit Caboodle Ranch in the town of Lee, near the Georgia border, was arrested Monday on counts of cruelty to animals and scheming to defraud, and is being held in Madison County Jail. Some 125 law-enforcement and animal care officers removed the cats after numerous complaints and a five-month investigation, the Florida Times-Union reported.

"A lot of the cats have upper respiratory disease. There are cats with open wounds and some with neurological issues," said Tim Rickey, senior investigator of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"He was like a one-man show up there for the most part, and how many animals can you handle? Although his heart was in the right place, he really didn't study how to do things properly," said Rick DuCharme, executive director of First Coast No More Homeless Pets, a group in Jacksonville.

Grant is a former building maintenance contractor who acquired homeless cats in the course of his job, then bought a 30-acre tract in rural Florida for a sanctuary. Caboodle Ranch opened in 2007 and operates on grants and donations.

Many of the rescued cats were not spayed or neutered, Rickey said.

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