Caveat: I am against Caboodle Ranch because a judge closed it down. I am also against the routine killing at shelters and the lack of transparency at shelters. I am comparing accepted cat shelters with an unacceptable one.
A lot of people feel passionately about Caboodle Ranch (CR), which is good. There are arguments on both sides: the supporters and those against CR. There is only one side to be on now (August 5th 2012): Against CR. This is because it has been closed down by court order for a failure to provide proper welfare for its cats and for alleged fraud by the owner. A court hears all the evidence. We can take it is as a near certainty that Craig Grant messed around. OK, he may appeal but with the kind evidence available I’d be surprised if he did.
We, the public, don’t have the opportunity to review evidence unless we are in the court or have access to all of it. We tend to hear and read (sometimes) careless Facebook comments etc. and get our information that way. I don’t think this is a sensible way to proceed. You get lots of heat but not much light.
It is great to see passion and anger about a subject. However, personally, I’d like to see these emotions directed a little more precisely and at the bigger and more entrenched problems.
Internet media giants, such as Facebook, tend to feed bias. Facebook encourages people’s tendency to deal with important issues at a purely emotional level. The story, whatever it is, becomes a medium to express emotions that are caused by other events. For example, a person may be angry at themselves for handing over their cats to CR, then losing them. That anger is then focused against others who might innocently support CR.
Emotions are fine but when we analyze the CR story you have to think more widely. CR is pretty much done and dusted. Once a court makes an order all the expressed passion can only be incidental commentary.
The Caboodle Story is a great platform and launch pad to discuss cat and animal rescue generally in the USA from a critical standpoint.
CR was bad. Is cat rescue generally much better? The answer is going to be very hard to find. Most animal rescue organizations conveniently do not publish full statistics about the health of their cats. Statistics such as the percentage of cats killed to those surrendered (often around 70%), the conditions under which the cats live before being adopted or more usually killed. How are they killed? Some places still use gas chambers – killing boxes for cats. Gas chambers cause an awful lot of anguish during the dying process. How many cats at shelters become infected (at the shelter) with feline panleukopenia, FIP, FeLV, ringworm, FLUTD or an upper respiratory infection (URIs – feline herpes virus)? We don’t have the statistics.
Nathan Winograd in his excellent book Redemption (published 2007) gives us many insights into animal rescue in the USA. Concerning gas chambers, at page 101 he writes:
“In some shelters, they put animals in a gas chamber and turn on the gas until they are dead, a barbaric and inhumane practice.” In a note he says that gas chambers take time to kill. Animals experience distress and anxiety. They survive sometimes..
The people who are so vociferous in their hatred of CR, please tell me if the deliberate killing of a cat in a gas chamber is worse than being negligent in caring for a cat in shelter and that cat dying from his/her illness. They are different situations which makes it hard to compare but I don’t see a big difference.
As to disease and illness at cat shelters Nathan says:
“If an employee does not scrub cat cages, leading to spread of upper respiratory infection or panleukopenia (feline distemper), a highly contagious and deadly disease for cats, large numbers will be needlessly killed. These problems plague shelters nationwide….”
Can someone tell me the percentage of cats at Caboodle Ranch who contracted a disease at the ranch? Can someone tell me the percentage of cats that died through neglect at the ranch? I don’t see published data on these topics, which surprises me. Can ASPCA provide the figures or the court? I know that it is claimed that a significant number of cats were ill etc. and some were dead or buried. Was the degree of illness worse than occurs at a well run animal rescue center that receives no publicity at all and runs with the approval of the community and the authorities?
Is the difference between longstanding, accepted animal shelters and Caboodle Ranch the experience of the operator? Ultimately Craig Grant was rather crude in the way he went about things. He was almost certain to be exposed. Longstanding shelters even have a way to justify the mass killing. The shelter community is a well oiled killing machine that leads to about 4 million cat killings annually (no one knows the exact figure).
Let the people with a commitment to cat welfare tackle that problem head on with passion.
Note: Shelters vary in quality and in respect of the percentage of cats euthanised.
Associated: Animal Shelter Conspiracy.