Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sick and sad and feline bad. You may want to skip this post forever.

Another blogger alerted us to bad news at Caboodle Ranch this morning.  I've been feeling dejected and listless since I heard.

You might remember us touring Caboodle Ranch and meeting its owner and full-time manager, Craig Grant.  Our impression was that this was a good place for otherwise-unwanted cats to be, and that it was a clean, relatively safe, and loving place for them to live out their lives.  We didn't see the infirmary.

For me, the issue is whether or not to euthanize very sick cats.  Craig does not kill any cat, no matter how sick.  I would choose otherwise if I were king.  He never made any pretense that he euthanized cats;  in fact, he made his policy clear.   He makes them as comfortable as is chemically and emotionally possible, but he doesn't kill them.  So, it is very likely that inside the infirmary were very, very sick animals.  [I didn't watch the videos, and I won't.]

So, in the fray, hundreds of cats who were happy, healthy, and enjoying life and relative freedom on 30 acres of wooded land, with heated shelters and plenty of food, have been rounded up and "rescued" to crowded cages, over-populated, under-funded shelters, and uncertain fates.  Most shelters are not no-kill.  I know for a fact that the neighboring Lake City, Florida Humane Society will accept and kill a litter of kittens on demand while you wait.  For free, if you're a resident.  Now what are the Caboodles' chances?

If Craig's history and story are to be believed, this is tragic for the cats who might have lived out long lives on the Ranch.  If PETA and the ASPCA are to be believed, it's tragic for everyone.  I have encouraged people to donate a bit to the Caboodles, and we've met the man and his cats.  Naturally I hope to see him exonerated.  I don't want to believe he is a criminal hoarder.  A hoarder doesn't build and maintain a compound like this, seeking the best food and care for his charges.  A hoarder doesn't (shouldn't?) receive seals of approval from local veterinary and animal shelters.  These charges make fools of the hard-working volunteers who saw all parts of the operation and who thought the endeavor was worthy of their time and labor.

Disclaimer:  Annie may have a different opinion, and so I'm not letting her post, just in case she disagrees with me.  As if.

I'm going to moderate comments for a while, because I'm sure Caboodle Ranch detractors are feeling joyous at their "victory" on behalf of cats.  This blog isn't going to be a forum for free speech today.  For them.  You guys can speak.  Just remember I'm sad.

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Laura said...

To so many people issues are either black or white / all or nothing. They fail to see the grey. So sad for those displaced kittys.

Carolyn said...

aw... hate to read this. I have their site bookmarked ever since you and Annie were there and check it ever now and then...

Haven't checked in a while... boo hiss

Maria B said...

Hey Roxi - this is sad news. I'm sure that if he was euthanizing cats, someone would be criticizing him for that.

I have heard these criticisms of his ranch before, but then I saw all of your beautiful pictures and I trust you and Annie's impressions of places like this far more than I trust "them". I might have my own opinions about when it is appropriate to euthanize an animal, we all might, but I also do not have the means to provide 24-hour hospice care for my pets. So, if I did, things might be different at our house when our furbabies get to that point.

If he was providing appropriate comfort care, who's to say that he was not being humane? And, now that they have taken all of his residents, who will protect them from unnecessary death? What's humane about that?

Very sad.

Jackie said...

I'm so sorry. I'd never heard of the Caboodle Ranch until just now, but from what you say and looking at his blog--it seems like he was trying to do a good thing. What a sad thing. :o(

Brenda A. said...

Oh I am sad too. Sad, sad, sad. I've always believed that euthanasia to end suffering was the kind, loving thing to do. I'm even down with that for humans under the right circumstances.

Mostly I'm just devastated that these actions will result in so many unnecessary deaths. I'm guessing had he been given an ultimatum, either put down the very sick ones or risk loosing healthy ones, he would have opted to save as many as he could. But common sense never seems to play out in these things, does it? Oh arghhhhh. No bueno. :(

Wanderoke said...

Wanting to give you support with the courage that you took to write this post.

Please continue to seek out and write about the joys of this life, in all it's varied and "outside the box" paths and situations.

EcoCatLady said...

This just breaks my heart. The fact of the matter is that there are just too many homeless cats out there, and most of the "shelters" are really just staging areas for euthanasia. The whole reason I've got 4 cats is that they just keep showing up starving and homeless on my doorstep. And at that point your only options are to adopt the cat yourself, or take it to a shelter where it will have 5 days before it's put down.

Or you could trap, neuter and release it... but then what do you do? Put out some food and hope for the best? I guarantee that within a day or two you'll have an army of hungry homeless cats on your hands, not to mention raccoons, skunks and god knows what else. So do you just watch it starve to death?

I know there are "no kill" shelters out there... but in all my years of rescuing cats, I have NEVER known a time when any of them has been willing to take in a cat... EVER. I think they just don't have the room, so it ends up being that the only surrenders they accept are from the staff and volunteers at the shelter.

So what are you gonna do? Ignore the problem and let the cats fend for themselves? That's what most people do, and the result is that the cats breed uncontrollably, and then die horrible deaths from starvation and disease. This is somehow better than creating an outdoor sanctuary for them? I guess if people don't see the problem, it's easy to just forget about it.

It sort of pisses me off that PETA and the ASCPA would swoop in and bust this guy. I mean, where were they when the animals became homeless in the first place? Seems to me that if they really wanted to do some good, they'd tackle the problem from the other end with aggressive TNR programs (trap neuter and release) and by really, truly working to place homeless animals so they don't have to end up in a sanctuary like this one.

I'm sure that with so many cats in the sanctuary, there were some that were in need of medical care that they weren't getting... it's just sort of inevitable. But what's the alternative? Just euthanize them all? I guarantee if they were taken to shelters, that would be the fate awaiting the vast majority of them.

I guess I just think that there are times when we need to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good... And this strikes me as one of those times.

Jim and Sandie said...

How sad for all those kitties. I, too, believe that it our responsibility to give our animals a humane death when the time comes even though it breaks our hearts. I know he was trying to do what was right for the animals. So very very sad.

Cyndi and Stumpy said...

As someone whose been involved in rescue for many years, I know how easy it is to become overwhelmed, especially in the current economic climate. There's a fine line that distinguishes rescue from hoarding. Mr. Grant will not be the first to have crossed it, if that's the case.

Whether it's PETA doing what they do, or an overwhelmed rescue, the animals suffer. I'm so sad for the animals. I hope someone can step in and act on behalf of the cats.

Annie said...

The news reports of all these hundreds of cats living in deplorable conditions does not at all jive with what I saw for myself when we were there last summer. Yes, I saw some sick cats, ones with the upper respiratory sickness shelter cats all seem to get. But the vast majority of cats I saw looked healthy, happy and alert and were all very affectionate with Craig and with us.

I hope the ASPCA is committed to finding homes for all of the cats.

Soaring Sun said...

It's really too bad that in these situations, there is no neutral intelligent representative for the animals, like a guardian ad litem in a court case involving children--someone who represents the best interests of the innocent.

PETA and ASPCA have their agenda and a great deal of power; Mr. Grant has his agenda (not wanting to euthanize) and very little power.

It seems a well-versed but neutral party could decide whether the sick cats should be treated or put to sleep, and whether the well ones were receiving good treatment and should remain at Caboodle or taken elsewhere.

Taking the agenda and relative power of the parties out of the equation seems the only fair way to handle this. Yet I can't see it changing to this sort of model. It's only been in recent years that law enforcement has really gotten any power to step in and deal with animal neglect or abuse. Unfortunately there will probably have to be a lot of overstepping of that authority before any more reasonable system might be devised.

I'm so sorry for your sadness, Roxanne and Annie.

Anonymous said...

So sorry. Hugs. :-(

Tammy said...

I went and clicked on your link to the time you visited the ranch. He's not a hoarder. The pictures you took seem to suggest he had a very healthy enviroment. The cats all looked healthy, he was feeding them and caring for them. Hoarders don't tend to do that. They tend to live in filth, can't manage the number they have etc, etc.

It's sad that he's facing the troubles he has now because of some people that thought they knew better.

Those poor cats must be so terrified being in a cage, compared to being free on the ranch.

Annie said...

I was just sitting here thinking wouldn't it be great if the authorities would just take the sick and injured and leave the healthy, and from what we could see happy, ones where they are. Give Craig some interim help if he's overwhelmed and some supervision to make sure things in the infirmary don't get past a tipping point. Seems a lot fewer resources would be needed while also not traumatizing happy cats.

Gaelyn said...

Sometimes common sense flies right out the window when it comes to our furry friends. Yet usually we humans are more humane to our pets when sick or dying than to people in the same condition.

Donna K said...

So sad...went back and read your earlier post and newspaper articles, etc. Since I wasn't there, I can't comment on the conditions, but I do know I would rather live free than in a cage. Can't help but think that the cats would also. On the sidebar on one of the current news articles, the ASPCA says it has spent over $100,000 on this rescue effort and is asking for donations. I wonder...if they had that much money to spend on busting the ranch, why didn't they just give the $$ directly to the ranch to help address some of their concerns? Seems like everyone, including the cats, would have been better off. Two words would certainly help alleviate situations like this: SPAY NEUTER Hugs to Annie and Roxanne - I'm sure you are feeling this deeply since you saw the ranch in person.

Sherry said...

Sorry to hear this Roxie. Sounds like a big stick approach. All the poor healthy kitties. Very sad. Sometimes euthenizing does seem like a more loving act for the seriously ill and suffering. I know I sure wish they would allow folks their own right to die.

Terry said...

Just within the last week there were stories about PETA, and they weren't good. The stories said that they killed 95% of the animals in their care, and 84% were killed within 24 hours.

The Washington Post claimed otherwise, but even their news report cited a large number of animals being destroyed.

Their story cited a Virginia Department of Agriculture report of animals at the Norfolk facility. That report indicates nearly 80% were euthanized.

I love animals of all kinds (well, except for skunks and rattlesnakes), but I can't imagine myself allowing one to suffer.

Anonymous said...

This is such a sad story. His ranch and his care taking seemed to be the best middle ground for all these homeless cats. And he was obviously emotionally attached to all of them. It just boggles my mind that the third parties could not find a way to support him instead of taking what appears to be his life's work away from him. Poor guy. Poor volunteers Poor kitties. Doesn't seem like any winners here.

Bob said...

So "PETA" was doing an "undercover operation?" Who the f** do they think they are? The FBI?
Wouldn't it be better to HELP the guy instead of treating him like a criminal?
I just don't get it. And I have nothing to add on the subject, lest I get all snarky.
I'll admit that I do tend to lean towards euthanasia, but only at the point when an animal is clearly suffering. Possibly the "farm boy" in me. I make no apologies.
Just the same, it broke our hearts when "our" cat (supposed to be my daughter's cat, but don't tell my bank account) of 14 years became ill (some form of diabetes according to the vet) and after a time, he had to be put down.
He lived a good life. No regrets.

I'm mostly sad that this has made you sad.
There, I said it.
Keep us apprised (is that a word?) on the "investigation".
I'd spit on the floor with considerable indignation, except I live here.

Page said...

Poor kitties - this story breaks my heart. Gawd, I could so easily be a crazy cat lady.

Nancy said...

Ok this just makes me really angry. If you can't own thirty acres and have the type of domesticated animals there you want, what can you have?
How many stories have you read about dairy farms, hog farms, chicken farms get busted and they are not treating their animals (and for some their food) humanely.
I hate this for the man and the cats. I wish there was something to do for them.

lesliewhozit said...

I tried to comment yesterday, but instead I cried. :( I didn't watch the video either, I just spent some time remembering all the things my kitties have taught me over the years - about quality of life and that there can be things far worse than death....and prolonging the living with some of those things is a torture I cannot bear. They taught me that there is a time for life and a time to die and that dying on one's own terms is dignified and I can only aspire to live as well as they did ... and to die as gracefully.