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Here is a mid stream update on the forced divestiture of all exotic felines residents at the defunct K & R Sanctuary near Panama City, Florida. As of this day, 8 cats have been re homed including 2 tigers, 2 cougars, 2 leopards and 2 bobcats. Still remaining...8 cougars and 3 tigers. The Court ordered divestiture deadline was May 23. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is working closely with our group of volunteers to place the remaining animals. At some point, one must
conclude that several of these animal, especially one older male tiger and one blind female cougar will be destroyed if no takers. A little help, please by spreading the word.

Sweetpea, blind due to an eye infection her previous owner let go untreated


When the above e-mail reached our office, I knew instantly there was only one thing to do and that was to offer to provide a permanent home to the blind cougar and perhaps a cougar friend to make her move and adjustment to a new home more comfortable.

After a few phone calls to the lady that had taken responsibility for the care of these animals, Gary Borland, a volunteer and I, were on our way to Youngstown, FL (near Panama City) to retrieve two cougars, June 10th, 2006

Billie was so grateful for my phone call as the blind cougar was the only one that she was really worried about not being adopted and it was clear to me that Sweetpea, as she is called, was one of her favorites.

Enclosures in the sun with almost no shade
As we drove in my heart sank to see the way these animals were living and I understood very clearly why the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission had taken the necessary steps to close this place down. My biggest heartache came when we had to leave so many behind. How I wished that we could have taken them all. It is clear to me that our (SOS) biggest goal for the future is to secure more financial sponsorship to be able to build enclosures that will be ready for these emergency rescues. Once the court ordered divestiture, these animals should not have had to endure another day in these conditions.
Wolfdog enclosure with little shade and feces littering the groundWolfdogs water, would you drink this?

Through the help of Jim Broaddus, Bear Creek Feline Center, who got the word out on the internet and so many others that came through to help, the latest word I have received is that the remaining cats, 3 tigers and 6 cougars were picked up for their trip to a sanctuary in Alabama. All the primates were also picked up. The only ones that are left are 4 wolf/dogs and 2 wolves which we are desperately trying to find homes for. Gary and I have joined the rescue efforts of so many others to find these beautiful animals suitable homes.

Cougar enclosure with little shade or protection from the elements
It's great to know that networking among caring animal people got the job done. All of us, the small organizations in Florida and beyond, did our part in doing all that we could do to follow our hearts and our mission to provide permanent suitable homes to animals in need. It also saddens me to know that the bigger organizations in Florida, the ones with the big financial records, remained quiet through this most desperate situation. Some, however, won't remain quiet but instead use this situation to criticize, point fingers, place blame and defame others instead of cooperating and working together for the welfare of animals. Isn't the welfare of animals what we are supposed to be concerned with? Isn't this what good people donate their hard earned money for? THE WELFARE OF ANIMALS. Where oh where were the big cat RESCUE organizations in Florida? - the ones with all YOUR money.

Some have worked tirelessly for years to have a State run Sanctuary in Florida so animals can be moved immediately from deplorable conditions.  I for one, think this is a solution to a huge problem when animals need emergency rescue.  The animals could then be put up for adoption to private reputable sanctuaries.  The animals, in the meantime, would not have to spend 90 days or longer in deplorable conditions waiting for someone to come and pick them up.

Judy Watson

2 Coatimundi shared a tiny cage with no fresh water

A face that says "Please help me"

A long dusty road to the facility
I’ve known Judy and have volunteered at SOS for quite a few years now. This was the first time I actually went out on a “Rescue” . What I saw appalled me. The lack of clean water, small dirty enclosures with little shade, animals that were obviously malnourished. One volunteer and her family were doing their best to care for the animals but the job was obviously physically and financially overwhelming. My first thought was how did this situation get so bad and why wasn’t anyone helping? This situation didn’t happen overnight and how could anyone say these animals were being properly taken care of.
Our situation at SOS was that we only had one enclosure open that was suitable for taking in any of the cougars so of course we took in the old blind girl and a companion she was used to.

Since SOS is a non breeding facility, it never entered our mind to only look at the cougars that were intact and could potentially be used for breeding. One thing I like about SOS is that we take in what I consider last chance animals. In other words, SOS is their last chance at life because nobody else wanted them. Some of the animals may not be “Pretty” or “Good Breeding Stock” but none the less through no fault of their own, need a place to live out their years and be properly cared for. SOS quietly accepts these animals when other facilities who claim to do rescue, only appear to take in animals that meet their needs. I can relate first hand to this because after Katrina, I became very involved with a Doberman Rescue group in New Orleans and have since adopted a 10 year old Dobie that no one apparently wanted because of her age and health issues.

Gary Borland

Sheena & Sweetpea explore their new home at SOS
Sweetpea and Sheena explore their new enclosure
In the case of the 2 cougars we rescued, they were living in probably the bare minimum square foot sand pit enclosure with almost no shade except an open box made out of doors.  Now they live in an approximately 1,200 square foot jungle with trees, vines, leaves on the ground and a large, solid, cave like structure they can escape to when the Florida storms come rolling in.
Sheena coming out of their "Rock"
Seeing Sweetpea slowly walk all around her new enclosure checking everything out, and Sheena grabbing logs and rolling on the ground with them like a new toy was worth all the effort it took to get them here. Those are two happy & content cougars!
Sheena hugging a real "Tree"
Sweetpea slowly explores her new enclosure

Sheenas personality starting to come out
I love this place!