HERE IS A POST FROM DALE SWISHER, WHO WAS IN THE COURTROOM ON MAY 29TH AND HAS RECOUNTED EVERYTHING THAT OCCURRED...
Dale Swisher Caboodle Ranch, Inc.
My account of CR hearing: I was not thrilled to meet Tropical storm Beryl in person last Sunday, but she was on CR's side, so we landed safely and on time. Good omen. Nanette picked me up, and I met Paula, Rob, and Hana Grant for the f...irst time after 3 months of on-line communication. Craig is lucky to have such a loyal, hard-working trio on his side.
Being in court the next day was like being a guest at a wedding. Two people on the prosecution side, Elise Perkins and I think D Easterling. (Reminded me of Madame Defarge in Tale of Two Cities.) We had 15 or so on our side. It was an absolute pleasure to meet the wonderful people who have worked so hard for the ranch. During the hearing we had a couple of breaks, and after it was over, we all, including Gary Brown, our attorney, went out for ice cream. Our side was hopeful and smiling.
For the summation, Dr Levy, Tim Rickey (ASPCA), Adam Leath (ASPCA), showed up. They were stone-faced and honestly looked like they were anxious to leave the court house to get their euthanasia needles ready. It was clear to me which side was rooting for the cats and which side just wants to destroy Craig and the ranch. The judge is fairly new and is hoping to run for other positions, so he is anxious to do the right thing. The prosecutor, Reeves, resembles Colonel Sanders, and Rob said he kept that thought in his mind when he was being questioned. You're not as nervous when you think the Col. is asking questions. Crispy or regular.
Since the prosecution had its chance to present arguments on 5/3 and 4, it was our turn for witnesses. Dr Lewis was first, and talked about how common URIs were in cat colonies; how Craig contacted him after hours with new problems; how he treated cats on a regular basis at CR; and how he considered Craig's care of animals to be not perfect, but reasonable. Always room for improvements, but absolutely adequate. Other witnesses were Cary Hardee, a highly-respected Madison attorney. His appearance was a surprise for the prosecution & it gave a stamp of approval to CR. Cary visited the ranch last year (I met him at the ranch).
His impression was that he had never seen that many cats, and that the place was clean and didn't smell. Rob testified about the cats in the warehouse having URIs there, and had pictures to prove it. So if Craig's care was lacking, was the ASPCA's care any better? David emphasized that in his summation. Pictures taken at the ranch a couple of weeks before the raid were shown. Beautiful, healthy animals enjoying the freedom of CR. There was some objection by Reeves, who really just wanted to stop the momentum. Reeves looked like he was going through the motions.
Other witnesses were two ladies, one of whom was a vet tech, and one worked for vets. They were cleaners and were asked about the # of dead cats they had seen at the ranch. One witness had seen two dead cats, one did not see any. They testified that Craig had a rule that cats be neutered before being left, but some people dumped cats & Craig did not refuse to help anyone who needed to leave animals because of foreclosures, & the bad economy. They described the rain at the time of the raid, which made cats use the inside litter boxes instead of the large outdoor ones. Naturally, under those conditions, the facility was messy, but would have been cleaned by 11am.
A volunteer groundskeeper, who was a professor of math at a local college, testified that he had come 40 or 50 times in 6 years, and had found 2 cat carcasses. He described the infirmary and how much he loved the freedom the cats had. Living like cats should live. Another witness had brought cats to CR for years, and was angry that the ASPCA used a picture of one of her cats as an example of a cat in bad condition. That cat had been there for years and had vet reports of its allergies. All the witnesses testified under oath to the good conditions they saw at the ranch.
Reeves tried to enter some old income tax returns into the hearing, but the judge denied them.
As for the judge admonishing our side, as others have said, it was only the sound of sighs, when the word "dispose" of was mentioned. He then complimented all the on-lookers for their demeanor.
And as for me harassing Elise, that did not happen.
Since she had confused me for someone else at the earier hearing, I walked up to her when she was seated on her side, said Hello, my name is Dale. She absolutely snarled at me, and told me I had no business being on Her side of the court. I did not say another word to her, and left.
You have already read the positive things the judge said about Craig, and how he, the judge, didn't want to be known as the cat killer. We have until June 11 to provide the judge with some guidance as to our plans when the cats come back. That document is being researched and will include a detailed business plan. I suspect the judge knows that the entire raid was unnecessary and a waste of resources.
He will also read what an asset this internationally known facility is to the county. I was interviewed on a Tallahassee TV station (don't know if it was cut), but the reporter is interested in doing more research on why this occurred. I will help.
There are more activities going on that will help Caboodle, but everyone reading can help by letting their friends know we will need money to get the ranch ready for the cats' return. It was kind of like Deliverance meets The Twilight Zone, but a wonderful experience.
I believe the cats will come back to Caboodle Ranch.