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 Dobbs Gross
Executive Director
North Star Foundation



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.


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.




Cover Your Butt Much????

Once again…I will let you make your own conclusions.

Taken tonight at 6:17pm. Read the “additional information” carefully…there may be a test later.

Screen Shot 2012-01-08 at 6.17.35 PM

Now this screen shot. Taken at 6:22pm.

Screen Shot 2012-01-08 at 6.22.24 PM

Lets add in her response to the post, posted at approximately 9pm.

Ok, Now for the final screen shot of the night, ready? Taken at 9:22pm. Once again, read the “Additional Information”.

Screen Shot 2012-01-08 at 9.22.16 PM

Until next time…..



For your reading pleasure – Pepsi Pups

I’m still dealing with a nasty Lupus flare, a household with what may possibly the flu, the extreme stress of dealing with this Animals For Autism mess, and putting my oldest on a plane today to go back to college.

Which means my creativity level is nil.

So once again I’ll let Animals For Autism’s founder refute herself. First listing states that Animals For Autism was founded in 1986. Next is a “press release” put out after LM Kaydus was “interviewed”. (By who??? I know of no reporter who would agree to allow their interview, especially such a long and in-depth one, to be used without proper citation.) In this “interview” she states that she did not start to train her daughters service dog (???) until after she was almost lost in a port in Mexico. Her daughter is 16. To assume that her daughter was mobile and old enough to be walking in a port, I would guess she was at least 4??? That makes it 12 years ago. So she did not even “think” of beginning training service dogs until 2000.

Anyway…we have a plane to catch and tears to shed. Enjoy the reading.

PRLog (Press Release) – Apr 24, 2011 –
Animals for Autism offers affordable, highly-trained autism service animals for both children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) across the United States.  They also train and place Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) dogs with licensed therapists for use in classroom and clinical settings.Founder, LM Kaydus, was recently interviewed and asked to discusses the program from it’s original concept to the current programs offered, and the vision for the future of the organization.  The following exerpts are from that interview:”The foundation of our program started long before chldren ever entered the picture.  We raised Siberian Huskies for show, specialty, sledding, skijoring, running, biking and just for the pure enjoyment of the breed.  The adorable little Alaskan Klee Kai entered the picture later as an alternative and ease of showing after a major surgery required some weight restrictions, and we’ve been in love with them ever since – even without continuing weight bearing restrictions!”

See the animals and program details athttp://www.siberiansnowbabies.com/animals_for_autism

“Eventually, children entered our lives, and the dogs became fast friends and companions of our little ones.  It was fascinating to watch.  I’ll never forget the day when our first daughter was just tiny and in the early stages of learning to walk.  Our oldest and dearest Sibe, Bandit, had always kept a close eye on her.  I was in the kitchen doing dishes the old-fashioned way – by hand – when I heard our daughter giggle with delight.  I stepped around the corner just in time to see it.  Bandit lowered his head into her lap, then she grabbed onto his face, just below his eyes.  He then raised his head, and pulled her to a standing position.  Bandit then began walking very slowly – BACKWARDS, while our daughter toddled forward in her first steps!  So, yes, in a manner of speaking, my children were raised by wolves (close enough, anyway!)”

“Fast forward quite a few years.  We were still raising our beloved animals, and our family had grown to include another daughter who was diagnosed with autism.  Dogs are amazing animals, you know?  They kept an even closer eye on her, and always let us know if something was up.  The more time she spent with them, the more improvements we noticed, verbally, emotionally, socially and personally.  It was at that time when I realized she needed a dog of her own – one that could spend more time with her than the show dogs.  We really trained our first autism service animal back then, but didn’t really realize it at that time.”

“Lucky always let us know if something was up.  We had a terrible problem with her eloping – getting out of the house without our knowledge.  We locked the doors, and she unlocked them.  We moved the locks up higher, and she used a chair to unlock them.  We considered double-deadbolts, you know, the kind that requires a key from either side of the door, but we were concerned about a fire hazard – scrambling to find the key in an emergency.”

“Although Lucky was, indeed, an autism service animal who interrupted self-injurous behaviors, enhanced our daughter’s communication skills, kept her safe from wandering, provided deep pressure therapy and redirected many other undesirable behaviors, we still didn’t  see the big picture.  That is, until we took a trip to Mexico.  While visiting a very busy port, we decided to take in the sights at a large open air market with dozens of vendors.  Yes!  Retail therapy, here I come.  We were all right together, and then, in the blink of an eye, our daughter was missing.  Most parents know this feeling, even when a child is just behind a clothing rack at a store.  Instant panic, nausea and helplessness combined with terror and rapid-fire mental visions…not a good place to be.”

“I’ll not go into the details, other than to say we were very, very blessed to find her twirling in circles beneath a vividly colored display of handmade purses.  We had our little girl back, and she still has the purse!  If an “ah-ha!” moment actually exists, this was it.  We had never given consideration to fully training her dog to complete the testing processes, and actually become a certified autism service animal so he could accompany her everywhere.  She has not been without one since.”

“I have always been an inquisitive person, and one day I began researching autism, specifically the wandering element that often accompanies ASDs.  It was a mixed blessing that I researched the subject.  On  one hand, I was shocked and horrified at the number of those with autism who wander away – many times to their death.  Drowning seems to be the number one cause of death in wandering, because our kids know no fear.  But other cases involved walking into traffic, falling from considerable heights and other horrors.  On the other hand, I realized there was something I had to do about it.”

“It takes a lot of money to fully train and prepare an animal for a career as an Autism Service Animal.  By the time the animal is born, raised, fed, housed, trained, provided with medical care, tested and actually certified, the costs can be $20,000 or more!   I actually took a paper and pencil to it, and it’s true.  But, I wanted to find a way to make owning an autism service animal affordable for more families, so I set out to find other breeders who would be willing to donate animals to our program.  Yes!  I looked for volunteers to help us raise and socialize the puppies.  Yes!  I looked for volunteers to help with administrative duties.  Yes!  I looked for trainers who would work free….uhm…not as easy.  After all, it’s how they feed their families.  It costs $79 per hour at the local pet superstore for one-on-one training, and I did find trainers willing to help, but not for free.  With fuel prices so high, it’s understandable.  I finally found skilled trainers who were willing to give us their valuable time, and accept a $5 per hour stipend to cover their expenses.  Yes!

“We are left to personally cover food and medical costs for all of the animals, but it’s a sacrifice we are willing to make.  Our program has already improved many lives, and that makes all of the effort worth it.  That’s the attitude you have to keep to get up and do this kind of work every day.  There’s really nothing glamorous about it.  I mean, yes, the puppies are cute, but you have to be willing to clean up from all ends day in and day out.”

“We’re trying to reach as many people as possible who could benefit from our program.  While we do have to pass on the fees to cover the costs of our trainers, it is our vision to one day be able to provide our Autism Service Animals at no cost to any child, adult and/or family who can benefit from the remarkable differences service dogs can make in the life of individuals with ASDs.  How are we going to do that?  Tenacity, I suppose.  We are operating with donated everything, and we don’t even have an advertising budget.  We’ve applied for grants, and we’re hoping to find volunteers who can help us with fundraising events, benefits – whatever it takes.  At this point, I’m willing to beg shamelessly if that will help someone in need.”

“As a matter of fact, yes, we are fully sponsoring the placement of one of our highly-trained Autism Service Animals, James.  He will be placed with a child or an adult with an ASD who is in need free of charge.  It’s in honor of Autism Awareness Month (April), and yes, he is named James, in honor of James Durbin, the incredible young man from American Idol who has learned to live a beautiful life despite being affected by and ASD and Tourette’s Syndrome.  It was a fantastic opportunity to help spread the word about the work we do, and reach as many people in need as we could.  And, no, I don’t think he is aware of it.”  (laughs)

If you are interested in volunteering or have a fund-raising idea, contact Animals for Autism.