Caboodle Ranch: The Other Side of the Story
As I'm sure many of you have heard, last Monday Caboodle Ranch, the nonprofit cat rescue sanctuary in Florida famous as a little village built for cat residents, was shut down by authorities. The owner, Craig Grant, was arrested on charges of animal cruelty and all of the cats were taken off the property.
According to many news sources, the conditions the cats were living in were inhumane, and many of the animals were sick or injured. Apparently, the Ranch had been under investigation for a while, and a member of PETA even worked there undercover months ago to see things from the inside.
When I heard the news, I was immediately heartbroken. What I pictured as the perfect little place for kitties to retire (see all the really cute images here) was now not what I was hearing it was. I was sad for the cats and sad for the man who undoubtedly started Caboodle Ranch with great intentions and a ton of caring and compassion.
The news and images spread like wildfire, and the media has been quick to jump on the fall of such a once-fabled place. The owner has been labeled a hoarder and animal abuser, and all of this before an actual trial.
To be clear: I've never seen the place, so I can't form or discuss an opinion of my own. Like you, all I have to go on are the news reports and photos. If the situation was indeed as horrible and unsanitary and unsafe as the stories make it out to be, then I'm still sad, but glad someone stepped in before it got worse for the cats.
But either way, it's important to realize that there are always two sides of every story. According to Caboodle Ranch's side, all of the sick and injured cats were being treated by a vet; the photos of the disgusting conditions released to the media were of a building that was closed off to cats and slated for demolition; and Craig is not the animal hoarder he's being made out to be, but a kind, caring person who lived his life for these cats and is now devastated without them.
A post on Caboodle Ranch's blog with pictures tells their entire side of the story. It tells of a man who built a cat-sized city for the felines he loved, who slept with them in the sick room and worked all day every day to care for them. It tells about how he was arrested, "this 64-year-old man, armed only with a bag of cat food, was taken in by excessive force, with a gun held to his head and told at the time of arrest that he was being charged with a misdemeanor."
Craig posted bail and was not allowed to return to the Ranch right away. But when he did, he found that all of the houses he'd so lovingly built were destroyed, and all of the magazine and newspaper clippings he'd saved about his Caboodle Ranch had been shredded. There was nothing left, and that to me — no matter which side is right here — is incredibly sad. Why couldn't he at least keep his memories?
Here's a video of the Ranch for a news report a while back.
Reading this makes me so sad. I keep saying I feel sad, because really, I feel sad no matter which side is telling the truth (even though we may never really know and I think there's probably a mix of truth and sensationalism on both sides). It's the cats who are going to suffer here.
If they were living in bad conditions and stayed, they'd suffer. If they were seized unnecessarily, what are the chances of these some 700 cats actually finding homes? The reality of that situation is that most of them will likely die in shelters. I hope beyond all hope that's not the case.
Because no matter what, it's the cats that are important here.
And it's this picture, more than anything in Caboodle Ranch's post, that tugged at my heartstrings. Here is Craig after he returned to the Ranch.
Correction: I originally had the date as last Friday, but it was actually last Monday, February 27th. I made the change in the post above to reflect that.