John Doppler Schiff. Know the name?
You would if you were a hoarder or a breeder.
You see, John Doppler Schiff is one of the people behind CaboodleRanch.net, a website devoted to profiling the cruelty behind the Caboodle Ranch Cat Rescue Sanctuary. Caboodle Ranch was raided in 2012 after years of people voicing concerns about the rescue. Over 700 cats were removed from the premises, many of which were injured and/or ill. This despite founder Craig Grant’s having received almost a quarter of a million dollars in donations in 2010. Bank records reveal he had almost $80 thousand on hand at the time of the raid.
You’d think that the animal welfare community would be pleased. And yet, the Internet was abuzz with people defending Caboodle Ranch and Craig Grant. So who were those defenders? Fellow hoarders and breeders who jumped on the bandwagon to create mistrust of the rescue organizations caring for the animals.
Recently I asked Mr. Schiff a few questions about that experience.
Me: Why do you think so many people have defended Craig Grant and Caboodle Ranch?
Schiff: The psychology is complex and thorny.
Many of these supporters have donated money to Caboodle Ranch. They trusted Craig Grant. They were taken in by the façade of happy cats frolicking in brightly painted gingerbread houses. For them to acknowledge the cruelty that occurred there would be to acknowledge that they indirectly contributed to it, that they permitted the suffering and death of countless cats — in many cases, cats that they themselves dropped off at the Ranch.
For many, that level of honesty is too painful to bear.
Me: I can imagine. But the intensity of their attacks was frightening.
Schiff: PETA’s role in exposing the cruelty and the ASPCA‘s role in caring for the cats also attracted supporters with a grudge against animal welfare organizations. Convicted animal abusers and hoarders came out of the woodwork to support Caboodle Ranch. They held the raid up as proof of a sinister conspiracy against “law-abiding pet owners and rescuers,” and shared stories about how they too had been “victimized” or had their “property” stolen by animal control. Craig Grant was presented as a saint, a martyr, and the Big Bad Animal Rights Organizations were presented as animal haters resentful of Grant’s success and donations.
Even when confronted with pictures of cats dying in agony amid the filth of Caboodle Ranch, supporters will go to extraordinary lengths to deny that evidence. “The raid was staged. The pictures are Photoshopped. The cats were like that when the Ranch got them. PETA spies planted those maggots and dead cats. Craig is a saint, he just got overwhelmed. Craig was framed. The cats would have been euthanized if Craig hadn’t saved them.” It’s an endless litany of justifications and excuses to explain away animal cruelty, and yet, these wild theories are easier for supporters to accept than the simple fact that Craig Grant is a hoarder. He betrayed their trust, and allowed hundreds of cats in his care to suffer without proper care.
Surprisingly, this sympathy for the abuser and blindness to the suffering of the animals is not unusual. We saw it in the Haven Acres case, and again recently in the Olympic Animal Sanctuary standoff. No matter how horrific the suffering of the animals, there’s a core of supporters who are able to justify the cruelty to themselves.
Me: What’s the status of Mr Grant and the Caboodle Ranch?
Schiff: Despite the solid evidence arrayed against Craig Grant and the near-100% recidivism rate of hoarders, the prosecutor offered a plea deal. Craig Grant admitted guilt on the felony and misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty but would not be subject to jail time; instead he received 24 months of probation, and paid $1,790.00 in fines and court fees. That was it. And then he will be free to start hoarding again.
Me: That’s all he got? I am flabbergasted!
Schiff: Craig’s enablers have kept him from violating his probation, and that probationary period may end as early as May of this year. At that point, he will be free to begin hoarding again in a new location. Caboodle Ranch has already begun collecting donations and making plans to relocate. They actually stated on their Facebook page that they were looking for a location “that has no animal restrictions” and will be “impenetrable to people with negative agendas.” (E.g., animal welfare organizations or animal control officers who might expose any problems at the Ranch.)
Me: And you know what frightens me? That there are lots of folks out there that are fool enough to give this guy more money.
Tomorrow we’ll reveal Schiff’s recommendations to avoid enabling a hoarder.
By the way, I purposely chose some mild photos. There are many that are much worse. If you truly want to see the extent of misery the cats at Caboodle Ranch lived in, check out CaboodleRanch.net.