Cats in Jacksonville for treatment
Nearly 700 cats have been saved
It’s a chaotic emergency room with doctors frantically trying to treat the hundreds of patients that have been coming in over the last 24 hours.
And every few minutes one of the patients lets out a pitiful meow.
This week a nonprofit cat sanctuary in Lee was raided by Madison County officials, and since that raid about 700 cats have been shipped to Jacksonville for treatment. Cats were still being unloaded from trucks late Wednesday afternoon after they arrived.
“We’re just trying to do our best to treat these animals,” said volunteer Meredith Shields, who was transporting two sick cats to the emergency room.
Nine different teams are working non-stop to provide emergency care to the cats as they arrive, said Tim Rickey, senior director of the field investigation and response department with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The vast majority of animals are sick with upper respiratory problems, skin lesions, eye infections, neurological issues or some other type of illness. A large number of cats have also not been spayed and neutered, Rickey said.
About 125 people from across the country have volunteered to help.
It is the largest number of cats ASPCA will have ever removed from a single location, Rickey said.
The sanctuary owner, Craig Grant, who is from Ponte Vedra Beach, is facing three counts of cruelty to animals and one count each of scheming to defraud and felony cruelty to animals. He started the Caboodle Ranch in 2007, and law enforcement raided the property on Monday.
“It took me about five minutes after I arrived to realize the horrific conditions we were dealing with,” Rickey said.
The smell of urine and feces was pungent on the property, and even though Grant was supposed to spay and neuter all the animals, it was obvious that many had been breeding, Rickey said.
Rickey said no cats have been euthanized, although it’s possible some of the sicker ones will still have to be put down.
Dead cats were found at the Caboodle Ranch, but ASPCA officials were not able to provide the number of dead on Wednesday.
Most of the cats have been friendly, and should be available for adoption once they get healthy, he said.
But that may take awhile. The cats are now all evidence in the criminal case against Grant. And Grant remains the owner of the cats until the courts take them away, or he relinquishes control of them, said ASPCA spokeswoman Emily Schneider.
The felines are expected to remain in Jacksonville for 30 to 60 days. ASPCA officials have asked that the location where the cats are being kept not be revealed.
If ownership is taken away from Grant, ASPCA might seek out previous owners who surrendered the cats to Grant. All microchipped cats have been logged, with previous owners noted, Schneider said.
Rickey said there was nothing the public could do to help yet, other than donating money by going to ascpa.org. The total cost of this operation is expected to be about $200,000.
Source: St. Augustine Record