I’m not going to recap our entire story here because it is laid out very well in the rest of the Pepsi posts in this blog, news articles and newscasts. What I would like to do is share with you WHY I am so dagnabbit angry. (Ok, This is probably going to be a lengthy post, but at least watch the video at the end…)
Below is an email that was sent by us in mid-January, asking very specific questions. They are not difficult. They are actually very basic questions that I feel the families who are considering allowing a dog from Lea into their homes deserve to have answered. We have heard from many legitimate, long standing service dog organizations and all agree that these questions are easy to answer. And yet to date, they have not answered A SINGLE ONE.
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
Not a one answered. As far as I am aware, not one family has heard from Lea.
Not. A. Single. One.
However as of this morning Global Giving did send out this email: (Bolding is mine)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Donna Callejon
Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 9:41 AM
Subject: In response to your email
Thank you for your email. We are definitely aware of the concerns raised by a few of the families involved in the grant you reference, and are monitoring it closely. We are happy that at least two of the families involved appear to have received training dogs through other programs, achieving their original objective.
The outcome of the program is not determined at this point. To clarify, we have no agreements with the families and are playing a role specific to monitoring the grant agreement on behalf of Pepsi. We have been in touch with the families that are still part of the program to the extent they wish to be in contact and continue to encourage more communication between the grantee and the families with whom she has agreements.
So, now this isn’t Global Giving or Pepsi’s problem??? “no agreement with the families” When the families first became uneasy, back in AUGUST. Our phone calls and emails to both Global Giving and Pepsi were brushed off. The answers that the families received from Terri M. at Pepsi and KC E, at Global Giving were “We have thoroughly checked her out and she is highly qualified” “It is an honor to work with her” “You just have a personal problem with her” “How hard is it to train a dog” “She is legitimate” “We stand behind her” They, who obviously messed up the due diligence and dispersed funds to someone incapable of following through with the VOTED UPON grant. You gave her legitimacy. By the families trusting YOU and your due diligence process, and your WORD, we have lost 7 months of time that could have been spent on a wait list or raising funds for a legitimate service dog.
As far as I know, one ONE family has been blessed with a new route toward a service dog. That route was provided by a legitimate service dog organization who felt terrible at how awfully these families are being scammed. They saw the signs that you are still failing to see.
This is the dog my daughter was promised when Animals For Autism won the grant in May 2011. Bella.
Bella became her lifeline. She loved Bella. Bella was to be her best friend. Too bad the picture that my daughter grew to love was taken in 2007. “Bella” does not exist.
But Pepsi and Global Giving assured everyone that it all is good.
Even as Lea lied and then disappeared. It was all good, we were just trouble makers. Maybe we are, but this is why:
I had to tell this percious little girl that “her Bella” was not coming to our home. I had to break her heart.
That is why I find this whole thing despicable.
If you would like to show your support, you can sign our petition here.