The Right To Keep Cats

The Right To Keep Cats

by Elisa Black-Taylor
(Hodges)

The neighborhood terror!

The neighborhood terror!

I'm calling this article The Right To Keep Cats because it will discuss the right of every cat owner to keep cats vs. a neighborhood's right to limit the number of cats allowed per household.

The idea to dig into this subject comes from the Madison County, Florida Board of Commissioners passing an ordinance aimed to prevent another situation similar to Caboodle Ranch. As most of you know, Caboodle Ranch: Cat Heaven or Cat Hell went viral on the internet due to the condition the cats brought to the ranch were living in. The article prompted people to make many hundreds of comments indicating the level of interest in the subject.

The new ruling will allow a person or entity to have up to 30 cats/dogs if they own 2.5 acres of land. With less land there are rules for fewer pets. If a person has more than 30 animals, they can apply for an Excessive Animal Housing permit. This new ruling, just passed June 15, 2011 with a vote of 5-0, doesn't prohibit people from having more than the legal number. It simply means that those keeping a large number of cats will now have to follow strict guidelines in order to keep the cats or face having their Excessive Animal Housing permit revoked. The fee for the permit is expected to be $100 annually. The council is allowing a six month grace period, or until December 15, for cat keepers in Madison County to fall into compliance. Before this ruling there was no way to police this issue.

I agree that intense record keeping should be kept anywhere cats are kept. This includes those who have only a few cats. You never know when you may have to grab the folder and go to the vet. I had to do it just yesterday morning for an emergency vet visit. Even my small rescue keeps a folder on each cat with all medical information and any other info I think important.

We are all sincerely hoping that just the knowledge that the government is cracking down on cat hoarders will improve the situation at Caboodle Ranch, located in Lee, Florida. Hopefully Craig Grant will decide to adopt out as many cats as he can find homes for before the government steps in and he finds himself facing a lot of charges and fines. There are people all over the country who I'm sure would love a Caboodle cat. It's more a matter of whether Craig will allow them to leave or if he'll try to hold onto his cats until the last possible moment.

Here is a must read link for more information about the new ordinance. I'm also giving "homework" pertaining to similar ordinances in different parts of the United States. Please see bottom of article for those.

Researching this article got me to thinking about how many cats a person can keep. I can understand the number being limited outdoors where the cats may wander onto a neighbor's property, for example my Calipso, and be labeled a "nuisance".

But what about cats kept inside? What about those being fostered out from different shelters until a forever home can be found? Or private sanctuaries? Is it fair to charge a large fee for a permit for those trying to create a better life for a cat?

Would a similar program where a permit was required for an annual fee put a lot of foster families out of business? We put a lot of our time as well as money into caring for these animals.

My next question concerns whether government has the right to tell citizens how many cats we can own on our own property? One man took the issue to court and the court decided it was listed in our constitutional rights to due process and those rights were being violated. This man argued the point that we should be allowed to keep as many cats as we please, providing they are cared for.

I look forward to hearing how the readers at pictures-of-cats.org feel about the government creating laws as to the number of cats we can keep. As long as there is a written record as to the good care a cat receives, should there be a limit?

I noticed the new ordinance is for Madison County, Florida and Caboodle Ranch is in Lee County. Do any of the readers know if there are restrictions for his area? I tried to Google it and couldn't find much info. I did read that places that have a lot of "wilderness" areas have fewer rules unless someone complains.

Also, if I've missed any vital information, please feel free to add it in the comment section of this article.

Elisa

P.S. The photo for this article is my kitten Calipso. She was captured for "running at large around the neighborhood." Pretty good feat to only be 10 weeks old.

Resources:

http://www.wpri.com

http://www.animallaw.info

The Right To Keep Cats to Home Page

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The Right To Keep Cats

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Jul 17, 2011
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@ Dale
by: Dana

Dale, I made an OPINION based on all the information I have and from the meeting. Many have watched the video and found it obvious that the problem was Caboodle Ranch. There were comments that were made that it is obvious to anyone that has background information that the cat problem was at a "particular place where cats are all over and in the woods". If you're a strong supporter of Caboodle Ranch, of course you will have a different interpretation which is understandable.

As far as your comments about me not knowing what I'm talking about, you have no inside information just what you read or watch online and your visit. There's so much more to the story that you have no clue about. I've spoken personally with animal control, the county commissioner, the sheriff, and lawyers. I have many documents from several sources. There are several people who've come forward that saw similar conditions and took photos. There are several people whose cats have come up missing.

How can you continue to argue what others saw and experienced? I respect what you saw. I saw the majority of cats sick and infested with parasites. We have photos. I guess those are fake too. So you can continue to insinuate that we are lying. I don't care. I know the truth and so does our higher power which is all that matters. In the end, everyone will be accountable for their actions in some form or another.

Please stop using my name in your posts or addressing me. I'm tired of discussing this with you. You're beating a dead horse.


Jul 16, 2011
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6/15 Commissioners Meeting
by: Dale


I have an audio copy of the Madison County Commissioners' Meeting of 6/15, and have listened to it several times trying to understand how Dana can say the following.
"It is obvious based on the discussions that the ordinance was created in response to issues at Caboodle Ranch." To reach that conclusion, takes an imaginative mind.

Absolutely at no time was Caboodle Ranch mentioned or implied. Jamie did say there were two sanctuaries and the Humane Society in Madison County, and he had good working relationships with all.

The fact that "cats" were mentioned (according to Dana, evidence that CR is a problem) is most likely because the ordinance is confined to monitoring cats and dogs, so why wouldn't cats be mentioned? One attendee asked how to control stray cats and Jamie offered to bring traps. Are we to believe the only stray cats in Madison County slipped away from Caboodle?

Dana's other comment, "seems that every other authority and commissioner knows there is a problem at Caboodle Ranch except Animal Control" is drawn from thin air. There is no way to come to that conclusion based on the comments made by the Commissioners at the hearing.

The commissioners stated they were introducing the ordinance NOT to prohibit ownership of multiple cats/dogs. As for what prompted this ordinance? A committee member said there have been complaints. Who made the complaints against what animal owners is unknown and could have been from anywhere in the county.

Per the ordinance, not only will existing sanctuaries have 6 months to comply with requirements, the time can be extended if necessary. Several counties have enacted the same ordinance and the Commissioners said they were doing it for the County's protection.


Jul 05, 2011
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reponse to WCTV video
by: Dana

Notice how the reporter says "If Madison County Commission has their way that will soon change." The statement was in reference to how many cats Craig claimed to have. Now he's saying 600. I find it interesting that Willoughby says Caboodle Ranch is currently under no violations when CR is in violation of four county ordinances that I've previously pointed out. 1. Cats not wearing rabies tags 2. Cats not wearing tags identifying who their owners are 3. Cats roaming on others property without their permission and causing a nuissance. 4. Owner must have proof of all rabies vaccinations for every cat.

I watched the county commission meeting on the new ordinance and it was obvious based on the discussions that the ordinance was created in response to the issues at Caboodle Ranch. Noticed how cats were mentioned on a couple of occasions. It seems as every other authority and commissioner knows that there is a problem at CR except Animal Control. Once again, I believe he is being very lenient for some reason or another.

It's sad that Craig will not set aside his own selfish needs and put the interest of the cats first and adopt them out. What legitimate sanctuary has a goal of owning 1,000-3,000 cats? What legitimate sanctuary does not adopt out? I know...A hoarder. He's spent so much time and money into making the place look like Disney World when the number one priority should be the saftey of the cats. FACT 1: Experts have been telling him since early 2009 that he needs to better isolate sick cats. However, sick cats are still intermingling with healthy cats. FACT 2: Coyotes have been an issue since day one and the cats are still not protected from predators. Shouldn't the saftey and health of the cats be number one priority?

I've been heavily involved in this case and have done tons of research and have lots of documents that I haven't shared as to not jeopardize the lawsuit. The case is so complex and it goes very deep. I can say that Dale has only skimmed the surface of this case. In the end, I guarantee you Caboodle Ranch won't be around. It may take six months. It may take a year. But it won't last long.


Jul 05, 2011
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Facts, not speculations
by: Dale

On June 30, WCTV.TV, aired a segment on the new county ordinance that will limit the number of cats/dogs allowed per acre in Madison County. Craig Grant of Caboodle Ranch was interviewed as was Jamie Willoughby, Animal Control Officer. Jamie Willoughby said "there were no enforceable issues at Caboodle Ranch." To view the clip, go to WCTV.TV/floridanews/headlines/Madison-County.

On June 27, a Madison County judge heard a request by a defendant in a defamation suit brought by Caboodle Ranch. The party wanted to be dismissed from the case. The hearing was short, was attended by attorneys for Caboodle and the defendant, Craig Grant and the judge. The request was denied and the defamation suit is on-going. The papers, which included shot records and photos, submitted by Caboodle were accepted by the judge. It is totally false that the defamation suit was heard and Caboodle lost.


Jun 28, 2011
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Caboodle Ranch/Craig Grant lost defamation lawsuit today
by: Save the Kitties

Craig Grant had filed a lawsuit against Gary Conley, Carolyn Logan, and Pam Jonnason for defamation. The court date was today and Grant lost the suit. As part of Conley's defense, his laywer (Lucas Taylor) requested numerous documents and Grant could not produce them and as a result loss by default. Some of the multiple documents that were requested were documentation on every single cat Caboodle Ranch has ever taken in, proof of veterinary care under the Order to Show Care by the court, and every donation made to include monetary, food, buildings, furniture....anything. Conley will be countersuing for cost of lawyer fees. What is interesting about this case is the fact that Grant could not produce the documents which is evidence that he does not have records on all the cats, therefore he is unable to provide care for and insure saefty of the cats when he has no idea of how many cats he has. If he is this irresponsible with the cats, imagine what else he is irresponsible with.. www.facebook.com/caboodleranch.savethekitties


Jun 26, 2011
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@ Michael
by: Dana

Michael, very well put. I couldn't agree more.


Jun 26, 2011
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My suggestion to Craig...
by: Nancy

I do feel that you are way over your head in cats. Please, if you really 'love' the cats, or your "babies", as you call them, allow adoptions...to good, loving homes only. Also, allow people who have brought their cats to Caboodle Ranch because they truly love them and were under the assumption that they would remain healthy, and be protected in a safe secure environment, as stated in your flyer and website, to enter the Caboodle Ranch grounds to search for their kitties and give them the option of taking them back. After all, it is about the cats, isn't it? Man is not the cats' worst enemy, Craig...not if they truly love their cats.


Jun 26, 2011
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Keeping cats...
by: Nancy

I am aware (now), that where I reside, in S. Daytona, they have a rule of 4 pets per household (indoors). They really don't allow much for outdoor cats as pets. For a long period of time, about 2 years to be exact, I fostered rescued cats at my place, unaware that the city of S. Daytona does not allow this. I was aware of the 4 pet per household ordinance, but in no way thought this applied to foster babies. I took very good care of them, ie: fresh food & water twice daily, clean litter boxes, all spayed/neutered and up to date on vaccinations, and when or if one or more became ill, I tending to that also with medicine from the veterinarian. One day, though, someone who had no business being on my property decided to get nosy while I was away. They peeped into my windows and started counting cats. Then they called animal services for my city. They surrounded my place as if I were the most hardened criminal ever, or some drug dealer. I was embarrassed when I returned home and heard of this...not to mention outraged! I was warned that this was not allowed in my city, and given a fair amount of time to get my numbers down. They knew that I was unaware of this ordinance, so they were very lenient on the time limit. This was why I had to find a safe place for my kitties...which I 'thought' (fooled, of course) was Caboodle Ranch. 🙁 Oh, and yes, the new animal ordinance for Madison County does include Lee, FL, where Caboodle Ranch is! I'm eager to see if they work with him on this....He will never change, and I'm quite sure they know this. We'll see!


Jun 26, 2011
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@ Cotton Kitty
by: Elisa

I agree that rescues should adopt out as should any organization with the cat's well being in mind. I have a small rescue and love to match a cat up with a family and then go visit it a few weeks later in its forever home. As you said, that's how you free us a spot for another animal who needs rescue. Ideally you should have a revolving door. Rescue, place a cat, rescue another cat. It seems very selfish to want to keep hundreds of cats and not find them forever homes. Craig is just one man with only a few people who help him. I can tell you from experience it's a 24/7 job just dealing with 30 cats. I shudder to imagine how little time he can devote to each cat. I wish he'd take everyones advice and turn his place around. I don't see how he keeps track of who's sick and who's well. Who need a special diet and who doesn't. I'd go crazy if I tried to function with as little organizational skills as he's using.

So to answer your question, no, I don't know of any sanctuary where cats aren't rescued out. Even places for special needs cats still try to place their cats into a proper home.


Jun 26, 2011
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Basic Level
by: Michael

Thanks Elisa. I think at a fundamental level we do have a right to keep domestic cats (not sure about wild cats - that is different) but we also have an obligation to care for cats properly and think of neighbours and the environment.

There are competing rights and obligations which must be balanced. Lots of people are irresponsible so some control is regrettably necessary.

The question is where do you draw the line between freedom and regulation.

The feral cat problem needs to be controlled at root.

Michael Avatar


Jun 25, 2011
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shelters/rescue org not adopting out cats
by: cotton kitty

Anonymous asks a very good question. I too have never heard of a rescue that does not adopt out animals or begs people to bring them more. It just seems to fulfill some selfish underlying need. Does anyone know of another place other than Caboodle Ranch that does not adopt out? A couple of well-known sanctuaries that I know of are Cat House on the Kings and Best Friends and they do adopt out. I'll have to research if there is any that don't adopt out. But if you already know the answer please share. Both of those sanctuaries are role model sanctuaries and I would trust their business model over Caboodle Ranch's anyday as they have a wealth of knowledge and experience and nothing but positive feedback. It just doesn't make sense not to adopt out. For every cat you don't adopt out, that is one less spot you can open up to save another one. People would love to have a Caboodle cat due to their notoriety. That's why Best Friends adopt out so many animals. Under different management, Caboodle Ranch could be a wonderful place.


Jun 25, 2011
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My plea to Craig too
by: Dana

I feel safe to say that the standards of housing, veterinary care, an isolation system, and record keeping are not up to par to qualify at this time for an EAH (Excessive Animal Habitat). Please start adopting out the cats. They have a very good chance for adoption. If you care about the cats as much as you say, you will put their interest first over yours. If and when you can get your place up to code to qualify for an EAH and prove that you can provide the quality of care and record keeping then in the future it is possible you may qualify for an EAH permit. But don't risk the cats future for something that is not guaranteed at this time. There ARE people who do love cats and and there ARE people who can provide them more than you can. The cats need more than food and shelter. They need individual attention and love. You know the suffering that goes on there whether you want to admit it or not. A vet from Maddie's Shelter Medicine isn't going to lie about the conditions. If you will stop fighting those who are critical and look deep inside you will realize that adopting the cats out is the best thing for them.


Jun 25, 2011
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A plea to Craig
by: Elisa

I usually write these controversial stories and then stay out of the comments. This time I want to make an exception. I want to make a plea to Craig to PLEASE begin adopting these cats out.

I've done countless abuse stories. History shows that when his place is for lack of a better term "busted" he will be facing charges for EACH cat who is deemed unhealthy. The government will not want to hear that he's trying to help the cats or that he's a senior citizen. They'll only look at the facts and probably photos that will be taken when his ranch is finally-whatever.

Craig, there are people everywhere who want to take your cats and help you. Why not stop taking in cats, adopt out all you can, and perhaps care for the limit of 30 if you can guarantee their safety and health.

No one is trying to ruin you personally. Everyone here is just trying to find help for the cats, who are in danger not only from wild animals but from getting hit by a car or becomming ill and you not knowing because you're trying to keep track of too many cats.


Jun 25, 2011
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needing to know more
by: God's little blessings Rescue

My husband is active duty and I have been doing care and service for the babies for 11 yrs. We have several cats that are disable and we will not put them down. they will reside with us till they pass of old age. I have some that never got adopted, we spayed and neutered as even declawed them( Before we found out what declawing them can do) They still are with us. I want to know where to get the permit, the help to file a 501 c3 we have been doing this for 11 yrs and placed many babies in good homes all spayed and neutered. We couldn't find agencies to provide help so I have a floral business that is called Blessed Decor Designs and we make money to do all the care for the babies. After reading this it opens my eyes to how anyone has the right to tell another person what and who they can have in their property. As long as the babies are healthy and maintained, loved and cared for there should be no problem. I wish to see more information and we are truly grateful to you for the story. Please give us more information. Thank you kindly and god bless


Jun 25, 2011
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Property Rights
by: Anonymous

I have no opinion on Caboodle Ranch pro or con; don't know anything about them. But this ordinance appears to be a government taking of private property rights, and I am not in favor of that.


Jun 25, 2011
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does the government have the right to limit cats/dogs
by: Dana

I think there should be some regulation. I like the idea of the Excessive Animal Habitat (EAH) permit. 30 cats roaming free as compared to hundreds is a lot less of a nuissance on neighbors properties. I don't think $100/year for an EAH permit is expensive in comparision to the cost of caring for more than 30 cats. I think getting the housing facilities up to the standards put forth in the new ordinance is what's going to be costly and timely. But those are standards that any legitimate shelter should be abiding by anyways.

Some may seem the ordinance uncontitutional but unfortunately laws are created because certain citizens or organizations do something to warrant a new law. Imagine if everyone had hundreds of cats running loose all over the place and not caring for them? That's why the government has to step in. And unfortunately it does affect everyone, even those who were taking good care of their cats and their living evironments.

But I'd rather err on the side of having laws for the protection of animals. All of us animal lovers are always screeming we need better animal protection laws. This ordinance is one step in the right direction.

Also, there are neighborhoods whose Homeowner Association rules limit the number of animals per house. Indentures like these have been in place for years. They are created to prevent pets causing a nuissance to neighbors and to prevent hoarding situations that bring down the appearance and value of the neighborhood.

I foster cats too. Currently with my own two cats I have 9 and could handle a few more but I can't imagine having 100 in my home. It would be disgustingly dirty. Unhealthy for the cats and me.


Jun 25, 2011
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Fantastic
by: Anonymous

This is good news. I cringed every time Craig/Nanette put out "the call" for more cats. What "rescue" have you EVER heard of, that practically BEGS for more animals?! What "rescue" have you ever known that would not adopt out cats? There are many, many questions in regards to Caboodle, and no real answers.

Elisa, Caboodle IS in Madison County. They are located in the TOWN of Lee. Lee County is a different County altogether, and is NOT where Caboodle is located. Caboodle is definitely covered by this new Madison County ordinance.



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