JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Ponte Vedra man who owned an North Florida animal sanctuary where nearly 700 cats were seized last year has reached an agreement with prosecutors allowing him to avoid a trial on animal cruelty charges if he pays court costs, receives counseling and complies with the county's limit on the number of domestic animals kept.
The agreement between Craig Grant the state attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit was reached last week, but filed in Madison County court on Wednesday.
Grant had pleaded not guilty and maintained he was giving a home to animals no one else wanted. (Pictured below on his ranch in 2008)
"I was giving homeless cats a place to live they were kicked around too much – my Caboodle Ranch was a permanent home for them," Grant told Channel 4 in January.
But Rhonda Windman, Medical Director for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals -- which conducted an undercover investigation that led to the confiscation of the cats and the criminal charges -- said the cats were very sick and in danger with Grant.
"We saw a lot of upper respiratory infections and we also saw a lot of hair matting…so just a lot of signs of neglect and not being cared for very well over a long period of time," said Windham.
Most of the cats were nursed back to health and adopted out at shelters in around Jacksonville last spring.
Under the Deferred Prosecution Agreement, Grant agrees to work regularly, not change residence without notification, pay a total of $1,790 in charges and fees, continue with counseling and medications as prescribed and provide periodic progress reports to a county administrator.
If Grant satisfies those requirements for two years and doesn't exceed the maximum number of pets allowed by Madison County authorities, he will not face trial on the charges.