In which Global Giving blatantly disregards a basic request

I don’t even know what to say. Global Giving is refusing to answer even a single question that the Pepsi Pups families have asked. Not. A. Single. One. And they are blatantly disregarding our simple request for communication in writing. They have begun calling the families and demanding that the families provide an answer of yes/no to being in the Pepsi Pup program BY FRIDAY. Without answering a single, simple request for more information.

Below is a post from Stinker Baby:

AND IN THIS CORNER

Recently, this whole Pepsi Pup mess has taken on a new level of ridiculous.  The “Powers That Be” in this drama have gotten out their big brooms and are looking for a ginormous rug.  Instead of answering even one of our requests in our response letter (found here: letter in which we ask simple questions and clearly ask for written contact), Global Giving representatives have begun calling the families and telling these parents they need an answer by the end of the week.

Um, what?
The families are being required to request to stay in the program?  And instead of answering any of our questions (Not. Even. One.), we’re supposed to just trust what they say?  Yeah.  Right.  Any other service dog organization would be happy to answer those simple questions immediately and, most likely, we would not have had to ask in the first place.  But instead, our requests for written contact are ignored, they are refusing to answer even one of our simple questions, and the demands are being placed on us.

Instead of a simple apology or an admission of…gasp…an honest mistake, they’re ready to take it to the mat.
Well, AFA / Pepsi / Global Giving…Since you’re obviously looking for a fight, you should get to know your opponents.  We’ll start with just two so you can really get to know these foes.  Maybe you’ll be able to find some weakness you can use to your advantage.  Are you ready?  Take notes!  You might need them.
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Meet Faith C. from Washington.  I’ll let Faith’s mom, Allison (who also blogs at Mommy Rambles), tell you about her amazing daughter in her own words.  Take it away, Allison!
Faith was born in Charleston, South Carolina. She was a much anticipated, most welcome addition to our family of five. Her brothers and sister anxiously waited with friends while Mom and Dad went to the hospital. All was well, with everything right on schedule as we checked into the hospital. I could say that everything else went without a hitch but that wouldn’t be entirely true – shortly after her birth, Faith stopped breathing and was resuscitated by our delivery nurse. We still vividly recall her call for help into the intercom. During the first several weeks, we noticed that Faith wasn’t nursing and was developing a full body rash that would not go away. We switched from one formula to the next, trying everything we could, but with no luck. Allergy testing revealed life-threatening allergies to dairy, soy, egg, wheat, corn, oat, peanut and all tree nuts. And through it all, she fought on. Just when we thought we had a handle on our daughter’s medical issues, we were given the news that she had suffered a stroke just prior to birth as the developmental and physical delays became more and more evident.
She began a rigorous therapy program to include Early Intervention services and private Physical and Occupational Therapy. Each developmental step achieved, each milestone gained, was a blessing. We truly did not know what the future held for our little girl. Our daughter is still a medical mystery. She has many diagnoses, among them Autism, mild hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy, hemi facial micro soma, global developmental delay, Familial Mediterranean Fever Syndrome, left ventricle hardening of her heart, reduced kidney function and kidney scarring. She has recently graduated from being G-tube fed. It has been quite the journey so far, a scant 7 years and yet through it all she has brought so much joy and happiness to our world. During hospitalizations she was known to bring her nurses to tears with her thank you’s. Her heart goes out to those she feels are hurt or abandoned.
We recently visited her grandparents. During our visit the inevitable meltdown occurred. The complete change in routine was just too much for her to handle. Within moments Grandma’s dog, a sweet little corgi, is over by Faith. A few nuzzles, some nudges and the meltdown begins to subside almost as quickly as it had started. Watching the interaction between animal and child made us realize how important it could be to Faith.
You might be wondering what a service dog would do for a person, let along a child with autism. For many disabled people, service dogs bridge the gap of disability and ability. Service dogs help their human partners become more independent by providing assistance walking and navigating their environment, retrieving dropped items and returning them, helping to open doors, providing a sense of security by acting as a barrier between their partner and the rest of the world. They also provide emotional support when needed most; interrupting self-harming behavior, alerting others of wandering, and easing transitions by providing a constant calming presence.
Here we are, with this loving child who wants nothing more than to be part of the world as best as she can. She becomes easily tired, wants constant contact with her Mom or Dad (mostly Mom – Dad is an active duty Navy Submariner) who becomes overwhelmed if presented with too much unknown all at once. She is a creature of habit, with a strict adherence to the plan as it is laid in her mind. A buffer, in the form of someone familiar, helps to ease her fears. And this is where the service dog would begin to make the greatest impact. Allowing her the security to transition between the familiar and that which is new, giving her the additional support to keep moving forward, the extra hands to recover those things that she could not hold.
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Meet Caleb from Florida.  The pediatrician tells me that he’s going to be about 6’2″ when fully grown.  I’m torn between pride and terror.  At 5 1/2 years old, he’s already big for his age and getting stronger every day.  And, good grief, is he fast!
We are desperate for a service dog because Caleb is a wanderer.  I wish I knew the thoughts or feelings he has just before he bolts, but I don’t.  And he’s unable to tell me.  I’m unable to walk from the front door to the mailbox without Caleb escaping and running right into the street.  We have high locks and DIY alarms on the doors at home.  And yet, he is so incredibly smart that he figures out ways around them.  I remember one time, I dared to use the bathroom while home alone with the kids.  (I’m home alone with them most of the time while my husband is in nursing school.)  All the locks and alarms were set.  When I walked back into the living room, I was met with silence.  The kind that makes your blood run cold.  The kind that means trouble.  I called for Caleb with no response.  Again and again, I called his name, thinking that even if he was in the next room, a chance of response was slim.  That’s when I noticed the front door lock was open.  I ran out and found Caleb and his two-year-old sister roaming the front yard.  He had managed to get the high lock open by opening and closing the door in rapid succession.  I didn’t sleep for a few days after that.
He’s been in four schools in the last two years.  He has escaped from every single classroom until his current placement (a contained ESE classroom with a 1:2 ratio of adults to students).  At one school, gates were installed halfway through the year.  I can only imagine that we might have had something to do with that decision.
The last time I attempted to run errands on my own with both kids, I decided to make one of those “normal” memories and take the kids to McDonald’s for Happy Meals.  Caleb had had a much improved day at school and I wanted to reward him.  While I was struggling to get both kids and the tray of Happy Meals to the table, Caleb broke away from me.  He ran down an aisle of occupied tables towards the exit.  Not one person tried to stop him.  Not one person attempted to help.  I was faced with the decision of leaving my two-year-old daughter alone inside McDonald’s or my five-year-old son running into traffic.  I caught up to Caleb just in the nick of time, right at the curb as a giant SUV came tearing around the corner of the building.  I walked back in to get a scared and sobbing Grace and we walked out, leaving our “Happy” Meals right where they sat.
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These are just two of the children of the Pepsi Pup fiasco.  There are 11 more.  I hope to feature all of them as their stories come in.  And as tempting as it is to play by the rules of others and just show 11 pictures of the same child dressed in different  colors, I won’t insult your intelligence.

Focus

Today I would like to direct you to an awesome post by Stinker Baby’s Ashley. In the midst of all the pointing of fingers and passing the buck, Ashley is reminding us of what is really the whole point of this. The kids.

Rather than spending time playing Hot Potato with responsibility, maybe some one just needs to step up and get the promised job done in a trustworthy, open manner.

We need a hero.

http://stinkerbaby.blogspot.com/2012/01/we-need-hero-hypothetical-ohhh-snap.html

Read it and pass it around. Maybe someone out there will step up and provide an “Oh snap!” moment.

United response from the Pepsi Pup families (And why I have a headache)

Over the past 6 months, I, and all the other families, have been raising concerns and asking very specific questions. The replies we get are full of plenty of words, but never an answer. And each family has been told a different story. They range from “The dogs are in shelters because I could no longer afford to feed them” to “Everything is great, the training is right on schedule!” Those two statements were given to different people on the same day. Below is the letter from Lea, our united response to it, a letter from Global Giving (in which they still don’t get it) and our response again. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and take a moment to read. 

HERE IS THE LETTER LEA KAYDUS SENT TO MOST OF THE FAMILIES:

Over the past several months, there has been a lot of misinformation shared about my Pepsi Refresh Project, and I regret the heartache that it has caused you and your family. I am sorry that I was not able to be as communicative with you, the person this grant is meant to benefit, as I would have liked. Many of your concerns about the animals could have been alleviated during this journey had additional lines of communication been in place. We live in an “off the grid” location, and unfortunately getting an internet connection took far longer than anyone could have anticipated. While I am grateful that my internet access has been recently restored, I am a bit old fashioned – so even with email and Facebook restored, phone remains the best way to reach me. I would enjoy speaking with you at any time, so please feel free to call me at 217-415-4868.

I would like to assure you that absolutely no grant funds are missing, have disappeared or been misappropriated. After I became a finalist for the Pepsi Refresh Project, the Grant Administration Agent, GlobalGiving, and I structured my project plan and budget to cover tangible expenses associated with raising and training ten autism service dogs. This meant building a facility designed to accommodate the individual training necessary to making sure that the dogs are ready to go for your child. The grant agreement I have with GlobalGiving outlines this, and the expenditures are being monitored and reviewed by the grant administrator on a regular basis. Although the line items on the project budget have changed from my original program proposal, the result remains the same. The grant is being used for the placement of service animals with eligible families who applied and elected to participate. The grant status has always been and remains in good standing, and I am moving forward accordingly.

Please know that I can empathize with you. I applied for this grant as an individual, and not as an organization. As such, all participants are being served by me, and not by a nonprofit. I care deeply about the safety and quality of life of children with autism, as my inspiration for this project was driven by my own experience raising my beautiful daughter who has autism. I have seen the incredible difference our huskies have made in her life, and I am impassioned to share this with other families who might be able to benefit from a service dog as well.

Regarding the photos of the animals, all pictures were taken in 2011 or later, and they are photos of the actual animals who entered and continue to be trained in the Pepsi Refresh Grant program. The most recent pictures posted are also of the actual animals, and they are not random dogs. I will happily share photos of your individual pup – something that has not been easily accomplished until now. I realize how important it is for you and your child to see your dog, and I would love to do that for you and send them to you individually. I would also like to plan a moderated conference call every month with you, the other Pepsi families, and GlobalGiving to discuss the progress that the dogs are making. Hopefully this will help everyone be on the same page surrounding the next steps in getting you your service pups. I am still planning to place the dogs beginning this spring. Each dog will have a slightly different timeline, and we will still require at least 20 hours of one-on-one training when you come to pick up your service dogs.

While it is my deepest hope that you will remain in our program to receive the pup we have here for you, I understand that you may not feel comfortable continuing as part of the Animals for Autism project. In respect to all who will benefit from this program, may I ask that you please reply to this email to declare your intention to remain in this program, or if you’ve decided this is no longer the path you’d like to take so that I may find another family. Please feel free to call me with any questions you may have before you make your decision, and I sincerely hope you will choose to receive the service dog we’ve been training for you.

Again, I welcome any questions you may have and I thank you so much for your patience. Please call me at 217-415-4868, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Lea Kaydus

THE PEPSI PUP FAMILIES UNITED RESPONSE:

Dear Lea, Global Giving and Pepsi,

We are grateful to have some form of communication from you; however,
we are sad that this came about only after many months of asking and
waiting. It is disappointing to all of us that communication was only
initiated after significant media attention. We all expect a fully
trained and suitable service dog for our children, reserving our right
to move forward and comply with investigations currently underway or
opened in the future.

Due to lack of consistent answers when posed a question, a history of
lack of communication and removal of Animals For Autisms website, we
feel there has been a major breech of trust. We are offering a chance
to re-establish some trust by once again asking a few questions.
Before we commit to any answer regarding our place in the program, we
would like to have our questions answered.

1. We would like the easily verifiable canine training credentials of
Lea Kaydus and each individual trainer who has contact with the dogs.
These dogs are possibly coming into our homes and we have a right to
know the specific verifiable credentials of those training them.

2. We would like to know if during the 5 months Lea Kaydus was “off
the grid”, did she maintain contact with Pepsi and Global Giving?

3. We would like to see the line by line budget of what exactly
Pepsi’s grant is funding. Many of us feel very deceived since we voted
for one grant (training fees) and only much later found out that it
had been switched after the voting ended.

4. We would like to know specifically if Pepsi and Global giving are
concerned with the safety and appropriateness of the service dogs
attempting to be placed with our children, as promised in the original
voted upon grant, or if they are only concerned with the “facility”?

5. Was there a service dog training expert on hand during Global
Givings inspection that took place 01/23/12? If so, who was it and
what are their credentials?

6. We would like to know the verifiable age and the sire and dam (with
AKC numbers) for each dog that began training. We would also like
immunization records from a third party veterinarian for each dog who
entered into service dog training and we would like the current
location of each dog who entered into service training including phone
numbers of any shelters utilized.

7. We would like to see a video showing all the dogs together,
introduced individually, with a demonstration sample of training
achieved in the past 9 months by each dog.

8. All the families that paid money into the program would like the
requested, but still not received, financial statements stating what
came in and from whom, with full amounts listed.

Being “off the grid” does not trump basic decency. There are many
other ways to keep in touch, none of which were exercised.

We kindly ask for your response to be in written form so all families
are told the exact same thing and for easy referral in the future.

Thank you for your your time and attention to this matter,

The Animals For Autism Families
Pooser Family, DeWitt Family, DiRedo Family, Andrade Family, Creighton
Family, Williams Family, Johnson Family, Spencer Family, Ristau
Family, Podkowka Family

GLOBAL GIVING WRITES BACK:

Please give us a call anytime on Monday between 9 am – 5 pm Eastern. 202-232-5784. Please tell whoever answers that you are calling regarding the Animals for Autism project so that we can transfer you to the right person. Thank you! Global Giving

OUR RESPONSE:

I would ask that someone within the addressee of this message take notice of the line “We kindly ask for your response to be in written form so all families are told the exact same thing and for easy referral in the future.”
Response may be sent to pepsipupfamilies @ gmail .com
Otherwise it is my belief that you intend to continue along the path we are currently on with no care for our concerns.

Global Giving’s response.

I wonder if they will still be firmly behind her when the first child injury occurs?

animals for autism

Posted by GlobalGiving on January 27th, 2012

In 2010, Pepsi created the Pepsi Refresh Project to support projects that have a positive impact in local communities across America. Pepsi believes good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere and anytime and so they decided to be the catalyst for bringing them to reality. The projects were voted on and chosen by Americans and the result: more than 1.2 million people impacted across the country through more than 1,000 grants awarded in 345 cities and 45 states.

GlobalGiving is honored to be a part of this program. We work with agency partners and grantees to administer, disburse, and monitor these grants. All grantees undergo a due diligence process, whose terms are available as part of the official Application Guidelines at the following link:
http://www.refresheverything.com/official-application-guidelines

We also support grantees in a variety of ways by assisting them with various steps like project planning, budgeting, event coordination and securing local volunteers. GlobalGiving has visited many projects in various stages of implementation. We’ve seen amazing work being done all around the country, such as a turtle rescue project in Pittsburgh, new homes for foster children in Mississippi, a karate program for children with special needs in NYC, and a project to support the homeless in Washington DC.

Over the last few months we’ve heard the concerns raised regarding a $50,000 grant awarded to an individual, Lea Kaydus, in July 2010. The project is to provide ten trained dogs to families of autistic children free of charge. Activities funded under this grant include the construction of a new canine training facility and costs associated with the training of the dogs.

We do not take any expression of concern lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that grant activities are implemented as they were intended. We have been thoughtfully evaluating the situation specific to this grant, in addition to overseeing many other projects that are still actively pursuing their goals. As with all Pepsi Refresh Grants, GlobalGiving monitors project activities to ensure compliance with the terms of the grant agreement. We have been in regular contact with the grantee throughout the grant period (including a recent site visit), and she is in compliance with the terms of her grant agreement and is scheduled to deliver the dogs to the requesting families starting in Spring 2012.

We understand that for the families involved, the care of their children is their foremost concern. We stand firm in our commitment to do everything we can to support the grantee to help bring this project to fruition. We have also encouraged the grantee to be in more regular communication with the families going forward, to which she has agreed. We ask everyone involved to please refrain from personal attacks and understand that the grantee is doing all she can to accomplish her goals with this project.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 9:23 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Why are you hatin’ on Siberian Huskies?

I’m not!

Siberian Huskies are a beautiful, hard-working breed. They are independent thinkers. They can run for miles and haul heavy loads behind them. Did I mention they are beautiful? 

They are also ranked #4 for dog bites. They are very highly prey driven. They have an instinctual “escape” need.  They are bolters. They are  a stubborn breed that needs a strong, experienced owner.

Do I think Siberian Huskies can make it as service dogs? For an adult who has experience with this breed, yes. For a young child, who screeches, and flaps hands, and also want to bolt. No. 

I simply picture a young child, tethered to a strong Sibe, door open, squirrel running in the yard. 

Did you just shudder?

Once again, I do think that for an adult who is familiar with this breed, they could be a great service dog. 

Not for my child. 

Todays letter is from the founder of Project2Heal. It was sent to Global Giving. 

Will someone PLEASE listen before a tragedy occurs with the name “Pepsi Pups” attached to it? 

Dear Mr. Heckilnger:

 

My name is Charlie Petrizzo. I am the founder and CEO of Project2Heal. Project2Heal is a non profit organization that performs a number of functions for children with disabilities. Primarily we breed and train Labrador retriever puppies for children with special needs ranging from burn victims to down syndrome to autism. Our breeding stock come from a woman who has been breeding Labrador retrievers for over 50 years. She began her breeding to provide dogs to the Seeing Eye foundation in Morristown, New Jersey.  Today she helps organizations like mine to provide the best genetics available for service dog jobs.

 

The nature/nurture paradigm holds true with respect to dogs. Nearly one third of the adult dog’s disposition and temperament as well as its ability to work will be the direct result of its genetic makeup. Therefore the parents utilized in the breeding process are critical. The early environment, especially the four to twelve week age is also critical to the development of a puppy and subsequently the ability of that puppy to endure the training necessary to become a true service dog. For seven years now we have donated our puppies to organizations like  North Star Dogs as well as training some of our pups on our own for the needs of local children.  Our dogs have an extremely high rate of success because of our thorough pedigree reviews and enriched early socialization programs.

 

It is my understanding that the Pepsi Corporation has recently decided to give a $50,000 grant or donation to Lea Kaydus who has decided to raise a litter of  Siberian Huskies for placement with children with autism. In my professional opinion there are a number of red flags that your organization should seek out information on prior to finalizing your decision if you haven’t already done so as this sounds like a recipe for disaster.

 

First, no experienced service dog professional would pick a Siberian Husky as the breed of choice for working with children with special needs. The single most important characteristic or temperamental trait that a dog must possess to work as a service dog is a “forgiving disposition”. Children with special needs will pull tails, pull ears, grab skin, etc. It is for this reason that Labrador retrievers and Golden retrievers are the most sought after dogs to be used with these children. The demeanor of these breeds in general is a forgiving one and also a submissive one. They are very accepting of the idiosyncrasies of special needs children.

 

Closely related to this trait is the trait of intuition. Retrieving breeds that have been developed over hundreds of years to work in very close proximity to their “master” (i.e., sitting next to them in a boat or a blind patiently waiting to receive their cue to retrieve) have developed an intuitive nature that often allows them to perceive when the child that they are serving may need them most. This is especially true for children with Autism who have what are referred to as “Meltdowns” which are episodes of extreme anger or excitement. The last thing you want in such a situation is a dog who may misinterpret or misread the intention of a child who, with arms flailing,  may run at the dog and grab its ears or tail.  As a breeder of Labrador retrievers I generally do not have to be too concerned about this  issue because of the typical nature of the pups that are produced from our pedigrees.

 

You may ask “Why not the Siberian Husky”? Well, we know that the domesticated dog has evolved from the European Grey Wolf.  How far removed a specific dog breed  is from the wolf can provide a general insight about its temperament or disposition when it might be tested in a situation such as the one I described above. Consider the physiological attributes of a wolf: a thick furry coat, a bushy tail that often curls over the back,  mutli colored hair pigmentation including white, a narrow skull and snout, prick or stand up ears, brown or blue eyes. Compare those physiological traits to those of the Siberian Husky.  The Husky still possesses all of these physical attributes. This should tell you something.

 

The domestic dog is a neotenized version of the wolf.  Neotony is the biological phenomenon of a species maintaining the juvenile (puppy)characteristics of a predecessor species into adulthood.  From the standpoint of dog breeds, in general,  those breeds that are “further removed physiologically” from the ancestral species of the European Grey wolf will more than likely maintain a greater number of the puppy behaviors of that species into adulthood.

 

Now, consider the physical attributes of retrievers. They have a very blocky or square skull with a short square snout. They have drop ears as opposed to prick ears. They possess no white hair pigmentation. Their hair is a double coat as opposed to the thick fur of the northern breeds. The tails come straight out of of their backs as opposed to curling over the back.These are the physical attributes of very young wolf pups.

 

In summary, the retriever is as far removed from the adult version of its predecessor species as possible. This is clearly evidenced through the physiological traits of the adult  retriever relative to the adult wolf.  Compare this to the Siberian Husky which possesses nearly all of the physical attributes of the adult wolf and you can clearly see  from the standpoint of assessing physical attributes why professionals would choose one breed relative to another when working with special needs children. In my opinion, the choice of a first time service dog breeder to chose a litter of Siberian Huskies because that is what she has, should raise a red flag for Pepsi.  Ot would certainly raise a red flag for me if I were consulting on such a placement.

 

Siberian Huskies are wonderful working dogs, not service dogs. They are very driven. Their work is primarily that of endurance; pulling heavy weights over long distances at the urging of their master. They are not however a good choice for the average family as a pet. In my opinion as a service dog breeder they are a poor choice to be used with children as a service dog. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. However, when you are considering the safety of children I would submit that the responsible thing to do is to use the standard that has proven itself time and again. That standard of excellence is found in well bred and socialized Labrador and Golden retrievers.

 

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

 

Sincerely,

Charlie Petrizzo

Founder/CEO

Project2Heal

www.project2heal.org

 

A letter to Global Giving and Pepsi

Followers on this blog know that I have been voicing my concerns about Animals For Autism since August. Our concerns have been brushed aside by Pepsi and Global Giving. After all “How hard can it be to train a dog?” and “You must just have a personal problem with Lea Kaydus.”

I will be the first to admit that I was a total novice going into this mess. I was naive. I overlooked glaring red flags in my hope to help my daughter. 

Global Giving and Pepsi seem to be doing the same. 

Red flags. They are all over this.

Today I would like to share with you a letter sent to both Global Giving and Pepsi by another Service Dog Organization. This organization has seen first hand the results of “Animals For Autisms” attempt at placing a service dog. Are you listening….?

 

I am writing you on behalf of the community of true service dog providers for children with Autism and the ten children scammed by Ms. Kaydus (who also goes by 3 other names). I know that it was the intent of your company with this grant to do something good, to make a difference, and certainly not to do harm. I believe you are good people, you must be to offer up so many wonderful grant opportunities for organizations needing funding. I imagine, you had no idea what would happen when you made your grant to Ms. Kaydus, and no concept of what service dog placement truly is, what it typically costs, what is involved, and what breeds are most often used. I am sure her proposal sounded like a wonderful thing, to take 10 puppies and raise them up to be life changing service dogs for 10 children with Autism! What a noble endeavor. I know your hearts were in the right place.

What I am having a difficult time with though is what is happening now. I am certain you have seen the stories on the news; heard the anguish of the families given pictures of puppies that were promised to them as service dogs. Pictures of puppies who did not even exist, at least not as the puppies she was promising for one if the pictures was several years old. I wonder have you seen that she pulled her website from the internet? Have you read about the families plights? Do you know they have been calling and emailing Ms. Kaydus to find out what is happening with no response at all? Do you understand that some of these families have even given their own money to Ms. Kaydus and will never see it again nor receive a service dog as promised?

I believe you are intelligent people. Take some time and google Lea Kaydus and read the many new stories and postings from the heartbroken families. Please pay attention to the letters and emails you are receiving from those of us in the community who make the placements Ms.  Kaydus was promising in a correct manner. Do some research. Google Autism Assistance Dog and call the agencies which come up and ask if they would use a Husky as a service dog for a child with Autism or any disability or for that matter, any type of service dog work at all and see what the answer is. I can assure you it will be no. Ask them what the cost is to train a service dog appropriately and you will get answers from $10,000 up. It costs our agency $22,000.00 for every dog we place.  Ask the agency if they can raise one litter of 10 puppies and have every puppy graduate as a service dog. I can assure you even with the best breeding program they can’t be sure the dogs will all graduate. We place over 100 dogs a year and must maintain more than 200 dogs to do so with quality placements.

I hope that Ms. Kaydus did not intend to do harm. She loves her dogs and does not look at her dogs and breed with an open mind. I do know though of at least one placement she made having taken $3,000 from the family and placed an under socialized dog, afraid of everything, and with little to no training with a disabled teenager who had serious mental health issues. I am also working with one of the families who was scammed by her. We are providing them a dog and asking nothing from them in return. I wish we had the resources to help all 10 families. Please consider taking this grant you hoped would do so much good for these children and giving it an agency who can now offer hope to these families. I know you would like to see the faces of these children when they meet their new service dogs, true, well trained, quality dogs for the first time. Help us to help these children by putting your money to good use with an agency who can actually do good and not bring more harm with your funds. Building Ms. Kaydus a facility will only bring even more pain to future families who put their trust in her, I know you do not want to see that or have your name associated with such bad press. Do something good with your money as you intended and let one of us who has a good track record bring a smile to your face and good press for your name.

Please know I am not writing this email hoping you will in turn offer the grant to our organization. We have 13 years of stability behind us and while we as all nonprofits need funding, I am not asking you to provide us any funding. My only intent is that you take an honest, open look at Ms. Kaydus and her service and do not continue to support her. I wish she was the only illegitimate agency out there providing poorly trained service dogs to people to gain a buck but unfortunately she is not. If Ms. Kaydus has anyone who is truly a client and not just a friend pretending to have a dog from her offering support, the family has no idea what a quality trained service dog is and what they can do. I say this because I have seen firsthand the type of dog she produces and am dealing now with one of the families whom she threw to the wayside after making promises she now has no intention of keeping. Honestly, they are much better for having been tossed aside because now they will receive a true, quality trained service dog from our agency. Had Ms. Kaydus delivered one of her husky’s to this family it is at best certain that the dog would not have been a true quality trained service dog and at worse that the child may have been harmed by the dog. This breed has not been bred for such a highly specialized field as Autism Assistance Dog work.

I know mine is not the first correspondence you have had begging you not to help Ms. Kaydus bring harm to even more families already struggling to raise a child with autism. Please listen and learn from those of us taking the time to try to reach out to you and educate you on why it is wrong at every level to support this woman. She simply does not have the experience, the knowledge, the education, nor the ethics to be working with these families and training service dogs. Please do some research and if you can find it in your hearts, please help the families she has already harmed.

With respect,

Karen Shirk, Executive Director 4 Paws For Ability, Inc.
Service Dogs for Children with Disabilities!
253 Dayton Ave. Xenia, Ohio 45385 karen4paws@aol.com
937-376-2781 937-374-0385 937-708-6677 937-376-2720 Fax
www.4pawsforability.org www.4pawsdogs.org

 

A bit of encouragement.

Today’s post will actually be a comment received  yesterday in reply to my post  No Winners.

Hi Allison,

I’m so sorry you’re so discouraged of late, but I certainly understand why…it is soul draining to battle corporations, and there are also some aspects of soul drain in raising a child on the spectrum…

I’d like to offer you the thought that when I look back on the experience of raising my own son on the spectrum, Danny, which I’ve been doing now for 25 years (Time sure flies when you’re early intervening!), it seems clear to me that the most difficult aspects of raising Danny were reacting to society’s take on my child and the roadblocks thrown up by others that had to be removed before we could move forward with our lives together.

It sounds so easy, “removing roadblocks,” but it is so hard breaking down barriers to places that wouldn’t welcome him (from mainstream kindergarten to birthday parties); it was actually like sculpting rock with fingernail, and I do remember those days well because your words bring me back…

When you grow old life steals things from you: your eyesight, hearing and waistline to name just a precious few, but one thing growing older offers is the opportunity for wisdom from experience, if you choose to take it…I have chosen to lead a spare life where my wisdom and love are about all I pack away in my little carry on bags when I travel, tucked right next to my packages of gum and paperback novels, and what I know about raising Danny is that the pain of this experience came mostly from blasting my own paradigms into smithereens and then fashioning news ones capable of fitting in all that life raising a child on the autism spectrum can offer…

How much can that be, you may wonder? For it is deceiving; the work done to raise a child with autism, especially when they are young; is sometimes backbreaking, but more often simply patience trying…for one year of his life Danny would enter any room he saw and sweep everything on any level surface right to the floor: like my husband, he hates clutter! If I had turned this into a power struggle we may never have recovered, for in these small battles with our children no one really wins or loses; it was me who had to “offer it up” as my mom would say (or “suck it up” as my husband would mutter), but the point is that on the way to convincing Danny that to live comfortably together he had to tolerate a bit of clutter I first had to convince myself that I needed to let go of the notion that children should obey, or even listen, to my own rules on what to do with cluttered tables or supposedly misbehaving children.

Children with autism force you to reevaluate all your priorities…to prune when you’d rather flourish, sit quietly when you want to explode, take pride in what others assume your ashamed of; it’s a very confusing experience, emotionally and socially speaking, to raise a child on the spectrum…

Society should help, and I do believe we are getting there; babies with autism that shared the nursery with me were routinely institutionalized, when my own son was diagnosed nearly a quarter century ago many still bought into the theory of “refrigerator mother” as the cause of my son’s poor eye contact and difficulty relating to others…we now know autism is biologically driven, but we still don’t understand how much society enters into any child with autism’s chances for happiness (or their families’).

Children with autism are the tiniest and most honest non conformers, and this truth can be what sets you free…to understand the value of not conforming mindlessly in our culture, to fight for our children’s rights in a society still so steeped in prejudice against people with autism that few understand they are saturated with it, to wake up renewed and ready to enter the brave new world of autism when you never asked to be there in the first place…

Did Danny really lose when dealt the hand of autism? I don’t think so. I believe that he is every bit as accomplished as any 25 year old in his graduate program at USC, with his close circle of friends and cozy place in my own heart, but this was just Danny’s particular path and I personally hold no special pride simply because he got into a good school: he is happy and fulfilled, and this was always the main goal, in an important way, the only one…once I gave up wanting my coffee table clutter to remain undisturbed, once I gave up caring what my neighbor thought (the same day, coincidentally, I gave up hating my neighbor), and once I focused on the child before me rather than the child I was wishing I had, I was then not only on the best path for Danny to take to a happy and healthy adulthood, but on the best path for me to be happy once again as well…

This time, as opposed to the rather tense happiness of living up to other’s expectations I dimly recall from my youth, I am happy for what is good and true about myself and my son. Some days this happiness, this tolerance and acceptance of life in it’s raw form, breaks loose and I love everyone I see; other days I stumble upon an event or experience that throws me back to my younger self, gets my Irish up, and forces me to lace up my boxing gloves for yet another round with society, perhaps to spend more time shadow boxing with my own preconceived notions…

Pepsi and Global Giving, are you listening? It’s you and I in the ring this morning and I have decided I won’t stop fighting until you make it right for “the Pepsi Ten.” What makes me most angry this morning is the fact that rather than supporting these families in their quest to swim upstream, socially speaking, and raise their children with differences to a happy and healthy adulthood, they’ve been scammed via their efforts to do so…scammed by an individual, perhaps, but also in the process of being scammed by the greed and anonymity of corporations…

Allison, they are not as powerful as you think. And what’s in your heart for your child? Way stronger than you know…

Keep the faith!

Warmest regards,
Patty

Patty Dobbs Gross
Executive Director
North Star Foundation
http://www.NorthStarDogs.com

 

 

No winners

In some “battles” there is no score keeping, no one-upping, no points for the wittiest comeback.

In some “battles” the participants are children. Children who sometimes can not even speak for themselves. Who need help from those around them to speak up when something is wrong.

Because they can’t.

To make standing up for a child who is unable to do so into a win-lose situation is wrong.

In some issues there is no winner or loser. For the ones who have “lost” have nothing to lose. They are simply amazing children who have been dealt an additional roadblock called autism.

The Taz thing

Do you remember Taz? Back in the late 80’s Taz was IT. Taz was a whirlish, twirlish destructo machine. Taz had a soft side also, you just didn’t see it very often.

I loved Taz! I had stuffed Taz’s, Taz pillowcases, I even had Taz car seat covers.

Lately in my house, Faith is reminding me of Taz.

It’s a darn good thing I have practice in loving Taz.

 

—>bleep

I have not posted in a few days, not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I am talked out.

Animals For Autism. Pepsi. Global Giving.

Each post I start seems to end in the same —Bleepity bleepy bleep—

I’m angry.

When I’m angry, my posts are not fun.

I’m a fun person. Really.