"A Mile in My Shoes"
Songwriter: JOE SOUTH
If I could be you, if you could be me for just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside each other's mind,
If you could see you through my eyes instead of your ego
I believe you'd be surprised to see that you've been blind,
Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes
Now your whole world you see around you is just a reflection
And the law of common says you're gonna reap just what you sow
So unless you've lived a life of total perfection
You'd better be careful of every stone that you should throw
And yet we spend the day throwin' stones at one another
'Cause I don't think or wear my hair the same way you do,
Well, I may be common people but I'm your brother
And when you strike out you're tryin' to hurt me it's hurtin' you
Lord, have mercy
Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
Babe, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes
And there are people on reservations and out in the ghettos
And brother, there, but for the grace of God, go you and I, yeh-heh
And if I only had wings of a little angel, well
Don't you know, I'd fly to the top of a mountain and then I'd cry
Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
Babe, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Better walk a mile in my shoes
Try before what you're doing
Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
Oh, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes...
I feel I build the cats a nice home. This property was a tree farm when I bought it in 03.
I had to find a place for my cats real quick when asked to get rid of my cats. I was renting a two bedroom townhouse at $800. a month, so when I found I could get 25 acers for $1,000 a month it was hard to pass up. The problem was that I had to do a little clearing just to get n off the street. Next I had to get shelter a 10 by 32 foot utility trailer for $2,700. would have to do. By late 03 me and my babies moved out there.
We didn't have power or running water for three years. I transported all water from job sites. I would take showers at Robs, wash clothes eat dinner and take the two hour drive back to the ranch daily. I didn't mind at all, my babies along with Tommy were always happy to see me.
I've always lived good when raising three kids, doing what was expected of me. I was a good dad and owned a nice home in a sub-division up North.
Cats changed my life. I intended to build a home on the property but my values changed. I no longer needed that life style, I just seemed to be content. I didn't need material things any more and stumbled on happiness with just cats. As crazy as it all was I was the happiest man alive.
In 06 I applied for the charity after a nice write up in the Florida Times Union. A CPA helped out.. when asked what I wanted for a pay suggesting $2,000. a month, I said no, $1,000 will do, I don't want to take from my cats. I had just given up work as a contractor and needed just enough to get by.
Many cats came to the ranch after that nice write up. I had already gotten permission from Jamie at animal control stating I could have as many cats as I wanted. I build my business based on that. I've spent $300,000 and put in no less than 100 hours a week every week.
Now my business is destroyed, one of the five acre partials has been foreclosed on, another the mortgage is late, but the finance co. will work with me.
I checked with my CPA and he said as long as I am registered with the state I can accept donations. I am, and need help. I also help other rescue groups in need of cat food.
The rest of the property where the cat shelters are is paid off. In 2010 I leased the property from my name to Caboodle Ranch for twenty years so's my cats or any cats will always have a place when I pass.
Some day God willing cats will return, so please help with the overhead.
The DA and the prosecuting attorney did not want his criminal case to go any further, therefore, presented Craig with a "Deferred Prosecution Agreement". The prosecuting attorney, Dean Morphonios, was extremely kind, articulate and forthcoming and he told Craig he was a good man, wished Craig the best and "to follow his passion". Craig will take the next 12 months to heal and to plan his future.
This agreement may have ended the criminal trial, but Craig will finish the Appeal in the Civil Suit for principal and personal reasons. We ask that no ill words towards the prosecution be said on this Face Book page. We need to be done with any and all negativity, it just poisons the heart.
Craig mourns the loss of his cats every moment of every day, that will, in time, get better. He has been very sick in mind, body and soul from this travesty. And today has been the first step to real healing. Craig plans on relocating as soon as possible, and indeed 'follow his passion'.
To say "thank you" would not even come close to what Craig and all of us feel for you, the supporters, the friends, the cat lovers. An intense appreciation of your never ending, relentless support, love and encouragement is what has enabled Craig and all of us to get through this nightmare.
Craig continues to need your support. His lawyer David Collins was so moved at the meeting, that he 'forgave' the remainder of the legal bill ! He said, "use whatever you get for saving cats". Craig will be able to save cats but not in Madison County since they have the ordinance of only 30 cats allowed. So when he relocates, his dream will continue.
Craig and the ranch team and supporters were blessed today, and we ask that you pray for every single cat that was at the ranch, including the 2 great pyrenese, that they recieve love, kindness and a forever home wherever they are.
NOTE: We hope that the ones responsible for all that has happened will some day realize that they were the ones that took so many lives of so many cats that were happy without their interference and "rightgeous" opinions. They have blood on their hands, evil in their souls and ugliness in their hearts.
He is without any income at this time and needs help just keeping the lights on and the heat going. Anything you all can do will be much appreciated! He is trying to keep his head above water, make land payments and pay past vet bills. We have learned that the "haters" are planning on sending donatio...ns to the caboodle ranch paypal in hopes that Craig deposits it, without his 501 (c) 3 being in place yet.
They will go to ALL lengths to defame him and shame themselves to try to place fraud charges on him. With that, his lawyer said it was okay if Craig started his own personal plea for help and have it go to his own PayPal until our charity status is back in place. He said that "anyone can send money to help anyone they want, it is not illegal and not fraudulent and that private persons do not need a charity status to accept financial help!".
A WALK IN THE WOODS
I decided to take a walk yesterday afternoon through the woods and see a distant neighbor. It's a pretty walk through the pine trees. I passed by Buddy's hangout. I wrote about Buddy some years back, a 'sturdy' built black cat, a good friend of mine. If I didn't see him after a few days, me and my posse of a dozen cats would take a walk as we did many times and do a sort of 'search and rescue' mission looking for a missing cat.
I'd call "Buddy! Buddy!" I knew about where to find him. A loud yell back from him was wonderful to hear and we'd make our way toward each other. Yesterday, I walked alone. I hoped to see a stray along the way. I decided to yell out Buddy! when I neared his distant hangout. No reply as expected, I started to cry as I now am writing this. My pain runs deep.
I got to the neighbor lady's house. This is the 5th neighbor I've talked to since the raid, she said what was done was so wrong and that everyone believes this. She's taken in a few of my cats over the years, they are now her personal pets. She pointed out a young tuxedo cat that showed up after the raid. I didn't remember the cat but was happy to see he had found safety with her. She told me the little tux enjoys it there and speaks to her. This cat also loves the grandchild. The little kid can just about sit on the cat and it doesn't mind at all, she said.
Another neighbor there has had one of my cats for three years. Back then she had heard a scratching at her back door, she opened it the door and a cat walked in and there it stayed! She was so amused she adopted him..or did he adopt her? My neighbors weren't all bad, just one that I know of, he will get his one day.
MARKY AND GINGER
I've been looking through a few old note pads of some stories I've written in the past, I will you of two cats in a moment, but first I will humor you.....
There was some ice in Path Kitty's water bowl a few mornings ago, just to show you how cold it was and can be. The 'sick ward' has a bathroom that I use. I had to shut off the power to this trailer to save money. I tell you what, that toilet seat is COLD! But by afternoon the place had warmed up and I can wash up...
Marky and Ginger, a short hair tuxedo cat with a perfect black mustache, looking like it was drawn on with a felt tip marker. The other, Ginger, is a pretty long haired torti girl. A while back, I got a call from a lady who told me her husband had died and she wanted to travel but she needed a home for his 2 cats. I was the only option.
They were so beautiful, very well cared for. I had a seperate kennel in one of the barns, I put them in it together. They were so scared, and missing their person. I would sit with them each afternoon and evening telling them it will be okay and they will love their new home. I always had to watch new arrivals to make sure they were adjusting and eating and drinking. Marky wanted to hide under the cat bed. After about a month, they had made their adjustment. When I let them out they didn't want anything to do with me those little stinkers.
Most of the time a will look around for a spot they like, and it's my job to find that spot to make sure they were okay. A few weeks passed, I spotted Ginger eating from a plate of wet food outside the sick ward, one of six feeding stations. Now to find Marky. Three weeks, four weeks, then I spotted him! He took one look at me and turned around running up the trail as fast as his little body could take him. But he's been spotted and he's fine.
After a few months, I found that they were both together and made their home in the red barn, so I would put their plates of wet food there each day. They would wait until I was leaving to eat, with one eye on me and one eye on their plate!
Ginger eventually became more daring, coming toward me at arms length, and then I finally got to touch her and pet her again. Marky was a problem, 10-20-30 feet away, I just kept talking to him and calling him by his name. Funny, each day when I put out their wet food those two watch me at a distance, they expected me to put their plates by their buliding. I did, I was trained well.
Marky and I eventually grew very close. When I head up to the back kennels I seehim waiting for me . One day day as I returned from the kennels, walking down Poison Ivy path, Marky was ahead of me and walked the whole length of the path making his way through the trees. I still can't figure out how he knew to stay on the path.
I was handing out Temptations cat treats and was sitting ont he porch of the barn, when Marky walked over to me and bumped his head against my knees, I was accepted as his friend. Marky made the trips to the kennels everyday and after awhile he wanted to be carried and snuggled on the way back. He gives me head butts and makes "biscuits" (where his paws are stretching in and out) all the way.
I enjoy telling you of these two, it's good to remember them through my stories.
- Current Mood:working
Things are turning around for us folks. Yes, it may be baby steps but the very fact that Caboodle Ranch WILL NOT give up the fight for what is right, is finally starting to pay off. If you read the Judge’s ruling on the ASPCA Cost Hearing, it may seem a bit confusing. Fortunately, our lawyer friend that has been a crucial part in uncovering the wrong doings of the ASPCA, made things clearer for us. Here is an excerpt from him:
“ Paragraph 2 of the findings is sweepingly broad. Notice the difference between Paragraph 3. In it, it says there was no agency relationship for purposes of the animal cruelty statute, but paragraph 2 says there was no relationship of any kind. If paragraph 2 stands, it seems that the ASPCA committed trespass and conversion (theft essentially) when its people entered Caboodle Ranch’s land and took Caboodle Ranch’s cats and continued to hold them.
Since the ASPCA actually participated in the proceeding that produced this ruling, they would normally be precluded (by “collateral estoppel”) from challenging the factual finding in paragraph 2 in a subsequent lawsuit brought against them by Caboodle Ranch for damages. Judge Parker might as well have painted a bull’s eye on the ASPCA’s back. “
The Prosecution is putting together “an offer” soon. One could assume they are feeling the weight of the real meaning the Judge’s ruling and are shaking in their boots. They will not be able to prove “animal cruelty” , especially with all the contrary evidence that Caboodle’s lawyer has.
Our hope, is that in the end, this will mean that Craig and Caboodle Ranch will have their reputation restored and that the ASPCA will be under extreme scrutiny of their actions and expenditures. We also hope that there will be a group that steps in to ‘step up’ the guidelines and fairness for small rescues and shelters all across the
Please pay close attention to the news of late. Recently the ASPCA has been making headlines, and not good ones. The truth is coming out. The ASPCA has recently had to award a circus almost 10 million dollars for wrongful actions. They have also been in the news for abuse of the animals they “rescued” that were displaced from the devastating storm
After all that has been done to Craig and the cats, and the ranch, he still has to prepare for the criminal trial. There is not a date set as of yet. We are still holding out hope that someone with a brain cell in that courthouse will drop the case and see that it is wrong and a total waste of money and time, and let Craig get on with his life. Pick up the pieces and try to get through his losses.
It’s hard to put into words what everyone has gone through this year. Some words that come to mind right away are “devastation” , “heartbreak”, “soul shattering grief”. And still, those don’t seem to cover the loss and the pain that Craig, staff and supporters…and most of all the caboodle cats, have gone through.
What was once such a beautiful joyous and magical place for homeless cats, is now deserted fields of tall grass and abandoned adorable cat houses. Without recapping everything that happened on that horrid day in Febraury 2012, Caboodle Ranch has been dragged through the mud, it’s reputation all but destroyed and the man that created the safe haven along with it.
Craig has never claimed to be perfect or a saint. But he accomplished what others dream about, for over 11 years. Using his creative mind, his contracting background and skills, he created a slice of Heaven for cats that had no where else to go. And in the recent year and a half, it took just a few folks who didn’t like what he was doing, to make complaints, many times and under many different names to authorities, to have the ranch scrutinized and eventually raided, removing all the beloved caboodles, and shut down.
As a veteran, Craig has never experienced the kind of harsh unjust treatment he did that day. Being dragged at gunpoint, and with a gun to his head, while he carried a sack of cat litter on his shoulder, starting his daily chores at 8am. He was taken in handcuffs like he was notorious criminal and a bail set for him at 250,000.00, the equivalent bond set for sex offenders and murders. And what was he? A man of 64 years, that wanted to save cats that had no where to go. A man who for 11 years, lived happily, left alone with his cats, to live in the woods quietly, peacefully, caring for his little friends. Making sure they were safe, warm (or cool) and always had a full belly.
Without ever coming to the ranch, or even meeting Craig, the Sheriff chose to sign an agreement to let PETA and the ASPCA raid the ranch and take all the cats (and the two dogs), based solely on the lies and fabricated photos and stories of a few “haters”. Destroying one mans dream, the lives of hundreds of once happy content cats and the hopes and dreams of tens of thousands of supporters of the ranch who wholeheartedly believed in what he was accomplishing. Those supporters have increased since that fateful day and Craig rallies on with the legal fight for his reputation, and for the ability to once again help save cats from dying on the streets or being put to sleep merely because they exist.
Recently, the judge ruled in favor of Caboodle Ranch in the ASPCA’s attempt to be “reimbursed” for their expenses involving the raid and “care” of the cats. The ASPCA’s detailed expense statement was well over 1 million dollars. The money they spent “for” caboodle ranch cats, was ALREADY donated money by millions of people who once believed in their gallant efforts to help animals, so it was NOT money that would or could be “reimbursed”. But the main deciding factor was that the ASPCA and the Sheriff’s dept did not follow legal protocol in order to have a case. The expense statement the ASPCA turned in was the most deplorable document anyone could behold. Listing “plumbing”, “carpet cleaning”, “chocolates for the ladies”, “lunch at Panera’s for 100+” (totaling in over 1200.00) or staying at resort hotels and 400 thousand dollars in flights and rental cars and the list of inexcusable actions goes on and on. These people were on a vacation not a mission to help the cats. This statement in full can be viewed at:
So, where do we stand now? We are awaiting word of when the criminal trial will be held. Yes, they want to destroy what is left of Craig by telling the world he is an animal abuser and should be able to ever have a pet or ever start another sanctuary. We are depleted of finances, which most of you already know. We continue to need financial support for both the legal fees for the trial, for the remaining veterinary bill (they claim Craig never did adequate medical care, but we now have ALL documents showing the tens of thousands of dollars specifically spent for cat medicine, cat vet care etc).
If you can contribute to the veterinary bill, you can send payments directly to:
Dr. John Lewis at Madison Veterinary Clinic
119 Southwest Old US 90 Madison, FL 32340
Otherwise, we ARE still a registered charitable organization, 501 © 3, and you can send your tax deductible donations to”
Caboodle Ranch, Inc
P.O. Box 299
Ponte Vedra Bch, FL 32004
Thank you so very much for standing by our side through this extremely trying time. We are praying for a Happier New Year for everyone and every cat…
I’ll start you off with some humor.
At 4:30 I had to get up to use the bathroom, trying not to disturb Spinks who was asleep on the foot of the recliner. I climb over the arm of the chair; she’s sound asleep. If I had sat straight up she’d jump onto the floor. Getting back into the recliner, I back over the arm, but this time I fell back and the chair went over backwards. Spinks was catapulted through the air. I was fine. A little while later, Spinks came right up onto my chest and asked, What was that all about?
Now down to business.
The ranch is not a good place for me to spend my days. I start my day having coffee and pop tarts on the front porch of the big barn. But like this morning I looked over at a trailer in the woods, and no Toot was to be found. She would be on the roof right now laying on a bed of pine needles in the shade. Like many of my cats, just enjoying life. Many had their favorite hangouts, and I knew where to find most. The tree forts are empty… only a little fur on the rough wood around the door ways.
I’ve lost all my motivation; I just don’t want to work around the ranch. With a three day weekend approaching, everyone seems to have plans; happy Walmart shoppers getting supplies for cookouts. I’m trying to think of something I can do to make me happy. Every place I think of going is hours away.
I thought of Disney’s Magic Kingdom and how happy I felt there back about four years ago. Why not? So Saturday morning I grabbed some drinks, fueled up and was on my way. No one wanted to join me, I didn’t let it stop me.
Three long hot, grueling hours I was there. If you’ve never been, it’s the place to go. Main Street USA with nice brightly colored buildings dressed in fall garland and funny-face pumpkins. I felt happiness come over me. An ice cream parlor nearby looked inviting, so I bought a vanilla cone and sat at some tables along the walkway.
So many happy faces passed by. I missed having my kids with me; we were all there when they were young. Two guys passed by with big floppy hats that had Goofy written on them. Maybe I should get one.
It was two years ago this weekend that I had my only vacation in the nine years that I had the ranch, Yet people had a field day with that.
It was a little hot there and without A/C in the truck, I was wearing down. At 7pm I had enough and decided to head to Rob’s house, which is less than two hours away. That’s where I spent the night. Spinks should have a peaceful night and won’t have to peel herself off the wall. As I write this, I look towards the other barn and see Spinks on the railing. Bob Cat should be there too. Who knows where he is now.
My lawyers seem to have more of an interest in me now. I don’t feel I’m just a client. Gary upset me when he said I can always get more cats. They don’t understand that my cats were my best friends. Toot might as well be aunt Toot. I loved her, you just don’t replace her. This place wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that bunch.
In court Jamie stated that I came to him and told him I wanted to start a sanctuary and that I could have as many cats as I wanted. I spent over $250,000 building that nice sanctuary… How can someone just shut me down? I’m a corporation, a charity and registered with the Department of Agriculture allowing me to accept donations.
My cats are considered personal property.
Don’t ask me how proud I am to be an American right now. I’m a veteran. I had a gun held to my head like I’m a criminal. I can’t justify anything that’s happened to me. It’s like that show Locked Up Abroad. I’ve been put through hell.
When I was taken away and locked up, 100’s of people chased my beautiful cats like it was a pig chase. Some were hurt; open wounds I heard in court later. Some people took cats home. Murry, Little “O”… they weren’t at the ASPCA. Many were missing. This is like opening someone’s store and saying take what you want and wreck the place while you are at it.
This is all so troubling; it’s with me day and night. I feel so violated. I don’t know what I'll win now? David is so upset and has a renewed interest. I did give him half the money he asked for Thursday and the transcript which I did pay $4,570.00 for. Thanks for all your help.
I’d like to ask all those 100’s of people that wrote to judge Parker to send some small donations. I can’t live without justice.