Thank You To Animals For Autism & the Pepsi Pups!

A  “Thank You” to Lea Kaydus, Animals For Autism, Pepsi and Global Giving. 

From the amazing mommy at Speaking 4 Sam:

Today, I have an odd thank you to give out.  To those who have followed our story, you know that we were originally involved with a service dog organization that turned out to be a complete scam. We lost a lot of hard earned money, as well as generous donations from family, friends, and community. Pepsi and Global Giving became involved in this scam when they provided funding to the individual who was the “founder” of the so called organization…. funding that was supposed to help provide service dogs to children with autism(You can read more about our story in the previous blog entries). I, as well as the other families, have gone through a wide range of emotions. We were hurt, disappointed, confused, and angry. We tried to complain. We were told by Pepsi and Global Giving to just wait… everything is fine… and PLEASE be quiet. We took the proper channels to report what happened. We turned to media when all else failed. We hoped someone would hear us and do the right thing.

Someone did. However, it wasn’t the founder of Animals for Autism. It wasn’t Pepsi. It wasn’t Global Giving. It wasn’t people in positions of authority who could have done something….. it was someone not involved in the mess in any way. It was instead someone who could have easily turned the other way and went on with the great work she was doing already… It was the founder of a REAL service dog organization called 4 Paws for Ability. It was someone with a gentle heart, who loves what she is doing, and wanted to help children in need. She stepped up once to help my son by providing a fully funded, well trained service dog (which he will be receiving in October). She could have stopped there…. but she didn’t. She just recently stepped up once again to help another family involved in this mess.http://stinkerbaby.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-new-beginning-to-happy-ending.html#.T4OGIFHBI0o.facebook  Her kindness seems to know no boundaries. She stepped in and went beyond the “right” thing when others who made the mess to begin with wouldn’t. I cannot say enough good things about 4 Paws for Ability.

I have been there on site and seen their dogs. I have seen the training sessions and met the individuals working with the dogs. It is amazing. They are a nationally recognized organization, well respected, honest, and trustworthy. They have trained hundreds…plural…hundreds of service dogs. My son (and now another beautiful little boy from the AFA mess) is going to get a well trained service dog. A dog far better than anything he would have gotten from AFA. It will be trained in behavior disruption, tethering, and tracking (yes, that is right…. The dog is being trained to track my son if, God forbid, he ever wanders off). Wow, we are so excited for what the future holds.

So, believe it or not, I am glad that the founder of Animals for Autism did not follow through on the Siberian husky that she promised us. It could have been a disaster for my son. I have since learned that Siberian Huskies (although beautiful animals) make terrible service dogs and are not recommended for ANY child, let alone an unpredictable special needs child. I have learned that the founder of Animals for Autism lied about her experience, her trainers, her staff, and about the dogs themselves. She was never qualified to train any service dog and certainly not capable of training a Siberian Husky for such a service.  Thank you Animals for Autism for NOT giving my son a dog. (I would however like my money back).

 

Pepsi assured us that the founder was well qualified and told us they were honored to work with her.  Global Giving (who oversaw the grant program for Pepsi) told us we didn’t know what we were talking about. They said they had seen the dogs in training. Everything was fine. The funding continued despite the evidence. It is because of them that we took our stories public.

So, thank you Pepsi and Global Giving for NOT listening to us (although an apology would still be nice).  If they had listened to us and stopped their funding of this scam, if they had just admitted they were wrong, the families would have never turned to the media to have our stories heard. If we had never gone public with our stories,  4 Paws for Ability would have never heard about our situation, and so we would not be in the amazing spot we are now in.

So, in a strange way, I am glad for what happened, because in the end, my son is getting what he needs from a place very capable of providing it. However, I don’t want to forget the ones who started this whole thing to begin with. So as a way of saying thank you, I want to actually keep a promise my husband and I made to Animals for Autism’s founder way back last May when we made our first payment. We told her we would spread the word so that everyone would know about this little known organization and what they do….  I believe I am keeping that promise. I am trying to make sure EVERYONE does indeed know about Animals for Autism, their founder, their dogs, and EXACTLY what they do there. For good measure, I want to be sure  EVERYONE knows about the projects that Pepsi and Global Giving support as well…… You are welcome!

A Happy Ending

Sometimes there is a happy ending.

I am so incredibly glad to read about an organization stepping up! Thank you 4 Paws For Ability and Karen Shirk for filling the void that Lea Kaydus/Animals For Autism, Pepsi and GlobalGiving left behind. In an era of zero responsibility from some companies, what a refreshing change.

Please take a moment and read a happy Pepsi Pup story:

http://stinkerbaby.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-new-beginning-to-happy-ending.html

 

Responsibility? Really?

I will be the first to admit that I have been pretty vocal about a certain business’s lack of what I see as responsibility.

The lack of stepping up. Saying, “Dang, something is not right here.”

Today I would like to tell you about a different company.

In 2005 I bought a Tempurpedic Mattress. It was a huge splurge for us. We agonized over it for MONTHS. Shortly before hubby was deploying to the Mediterranean, we took the plunge and bought it.

Can you say “Totally worth every penny!”?

This was such a huge investment for us that we wanted to protect it. Tempurpedic has a special protective cover for the mattresses that when purchased at the same time as the mattress itself, has a 10 year warranty.

Fast forward to June 2011.

Faith, as she does every night, crawled into bed with us. But this night she had an accident. Ok, no biggie, everything is protected and washable.

Except it wasn’t protected. The protective cover didn’t protect. Oh nos. :(

We called Tempurpedic and we were told that there had been a few production issues with the protector we had, but they would send us out a brand new, much improved protector.

M’kay, sounds good.

New one arrived and whoa nelly it was different! We put it right on the bed and life went on.

Until a couple of weeks ago when Faith once again crawled into bed with us and had an accident.

The super-duper new and improved protector didn’t work. AT ALL.

Ewwwww.

We called Tempurpedic once again because….THIS IS NOT RIGHT.

And do you know what they told me???

Ready?

Grab a coffee so you have something to spit on your keyboard when you read what they told me.

Got it?

Ok, they told me….

We made a mistake.

Can you imagine? A huge company admitting that something got past their careful vetting. That an error happened.

It turns out that the super-duper mattress protector we were sent was actually a bed cover and is not designed to provide any protection at all.

What is Tempurpedic doing to fix this?

They are not only sending us an entire new bed, they are upgrading the bed.

Admitting a mistake AND fixing it?

You spit your coffee didn’t you?

Changes for Lea Kaydus – Pepsi Pups

Way back in August, when we first really began finding the inconsistencies in the myriad of stories told by Lea Kaydus, we tried to find anything that was verifiable. We made phone calls to check what we had been told, to find a small shred of truth to hold onto. One of the things we looked into was Lea Kaydus’s LinkedIn profile. It’s public information that she, herself put out.

Oh, she was acting director of finance at SPARC! You know, the Springfield, IL chapter of ARC.

Well, that was reassuring! She was acting finance director of SPARC.

Except when we called to verify, they HAD NEVER HEARD OF HER.

What?

From here you know the story. Blah, blah….lies, more lies, cover up, more cover up, disappearing acts, dropping off the grid, pointing fingers, not my problem, too bad – so sad, sit down and shut up. (If you would like to read about it: Pepsi Pups Posts )

Recently I happened to look at it again. Something was different this time.

SPARC was now linked to something else.

Well….what do you know?? THAT explains it. No wonder no one knew of her or had any records of her ever working there. She DIDN’T mean she worked at the Springfield area ARC chapter! Sheesh. Since that would have been untruthful….

She worked at SPARC! Just give the linky a click and it takes you right to the company….the right one. Here you go:

OF COURSE! See, she wasn’t being untruthful. She worked for the government of New Zealand!!

No wonder she passed her due diligence from Global Giving and they had no hesitation handing her $50,000! She worked for the government of New Zealand!

Sigh.

 

Happy Birthday to ….. Pepsi Pups

Last year – yes it has now been a year, when we began the process of applying for a service dog from Animals For Autism (also known as Siberian Snow Babies) we were matched with a beautiful pup. We excitedly looked at the information about this amazing puppy who was about to change our lives.

It was fate!

Her birthday was 03/07! That is Jimmy’s birthday! Today!

"Bella"

This little puppy, who we were instantly smitten with, shared Jimmy’s birthday!

It was meant to be! This beautiful girl was to be ours.

She was perfect! We memorized everything we could about her.

"Bella" at 6 weeks

We put her picture on our phones so we could show complete strangers in the Target checkout line. We made her picture our screen saver so we could see her when we walked by the computer. We put her pictures on Faith’s iPod so she could scroll through them. And she did. Several times a day.  We sent in our monthly payments of $750. We talked about Bella. We loved Bella. Today should have been her first birthday.

Too bad she never existed.

Oh, as a dog, she existed. She is a real dog. But she was not born 03/07/2011 as stated.

"Bella" with date info

She was born 03/24/2007

The dog my daughter fell in love with, that we all fell in love with, did not exist as we were led to believe she did.

None of the Pepsi Pups existed.

"James" the free service dog

And neither Pepsi or Global Giving see anything wrong with this.

So today, instead of wishing the dog we fell in love with a Happy Birthday,  I am saying goodbye to the dream that began 1 year ago.

Guess what I have?

The past year has taken a lot out of me. Time that I will never get back. My health has suffered. The stress has taken a toll on me and my family.

If a few parents could find the truth about Animals For Autism in a couple of Google searches, there is no way that Pepsi and Global Giving did not also find it. They have been given information since August. To know that a person is lying, and those lies are being upheld by 2 huge companies, backed by money and lawyers, destroys something. I don’t want to call it “innocence” but I can’t think of a better word right now. Until last year I believed that people were good. That people worked for truth. That honesty would always win. That as long as I told the truth, I would be heard.

I was wrong.

Right now, I feel like my innocence has been taken from me. My health has been taken from me. My money has been taken from me. My belief in the good of large companies has been taken from me. My belief that when a scam is revealed, that it will be stopped, has been taken from me. A year of my life has been taken from me.

But…guess what I have?

I have my integrity. I have my clear conscience. I have the knowledge that when I saw a wrong, I tried to make it right. I do not have to go back and erase things or cover up things, because when you tell the truth, it stands for itself.

And no, I will not sit down and shut up.

Video from Florida family – Pepsi Pups

Tonight on the 5pm news in Tallahassee Florida, the Pooser family told their story.

This Animals For Autism / Lea Kaydus / Pepsi / Global Giving mess stretches from one end of the country to the other.

Click through for the article and video.

I just wish the families could find some resolution. A SAFE resolution.

http://www.wctv.tv/floridanews/headlines/Animals_for_Autism_Scam_140223573.html

 

Why I’m mad – With a video at the end. Pepsi Pups

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: no-reply@salesforce.com [mailto:no-reply@salesforce.com] On Behalf Of Donna Callejon
Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 9:41 AM
To: c******n@satx.rr.com
Subject: In response to your email

C***t,
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.

Sincerely,
Donna

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.

Note the embedded data - 2007

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:

PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO. 

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.

Sign it, share it. Pepsi Pups Mess

Please consider joining me in boycotting Pepsi products (I do already, but I’m asking for others to do so as well) for these 4 reasons: 

1) Pepsi and Global Giving approved a Pepsi Refresh project that never should have been approved—to fund the placement of Siberian Huskies as service animals for autistic children by an organization that was deceitful about their nonprofit status (they are not a legal charity). Siberian Huskies are not an appropriate breed of dog to be a service animal for autistic children, but the general public and families involved did not know this.

2) Upon winning the Pepsi Refresh grant, Pepsi and Global Giving changed the terms of the grant and instead told the owner (Lea Kaydus) that the money could only be used to build structures (kennels, building, etc,) and not fund the training of these dogs for the families who were already chosen to receive them. These families not only bought Pepsi products to get more vote codes, but also had their families and friends donate money to the supposed organization to help fund the training. Since then, the lady has taken the money and “run”. Literally. She has built a big new building and continues to SELL puppies via the internet all over the world; but refuses any contact with the families that were supposed to receive the Pepsi pups. Essentially, Pepsi funded a puppy mill.

3) Pepsi and Global Giving are aware of all of this and have done nothing to help the swindled families. These families have huge medical costs and the emotional/physical strains of parenting autistic children. I guess that means that Pepsi and Global Giving thought they wouldn’t be able to fight back, and Pepsi has only “lost” $50,000, so it doesn’t seem to be a big enough deal to them to make this right by the families who were scammed. Please, help me make them “lose” more. Do not buy Pepsi products. If you read the linked blogs and news articles, you will get to know most of the Pepsi Pups families. They are good people who have been terribly scammed. Read them here.

4) The final reason is that Pepsi products aren’t good for your health, anyway, so joining me in this boycott is beneficial to you as well. 😉 xoxoxo

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

 

 

 

 

Stop covering up – Pepsi Pups

Even if you are sick of reading about this mess, please read this.

Want to hear something that sent shivers down my spine in light of how hard we all have been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of placing dogs trained, and I say trained very sarcastically, in homes with autistic children? Children who are unpredictable and often cry, flap and poke things.
In the past 4 days, two children have been KILLED by Huskies. TWO CHILDREN KILLED.
Why are you not listening to us, Pepsi and Global Giving? This is not a joke. It is not a game to be “won”. This is lives of children. We already know Lea Kaydus has lied about so much, including her previous training and placement history. ONE dog has been placed by her, and that dog was so poorly socialized and untrained that the family had to start over with a new dog.
Today I would like to share with you a post from a fellow Pepsi Pup family, Speaking4Sam
Standing Up For What Is Right….
February 18, 2012

Wondering what is going on with the Animals for Autism/Pepsi Refresh mess? The answer is nothing. Animals for Autism has pulled their facebook page (their website was already pulled down). Other than a mass email sent to some of the families weeks ago with no answers to anything, asking us to REQUEST our dogs if we still want them, no further contact has been made.  According to the last we heard from Global Giving and from Ms. Kaydus, dogs will be ready  for “delivery” starting this spring. I am not sure what the term “delivery” is supposed to mean. I have an image in my head of somebody driving by the homes of the children and pushing a dog out as the driver continues on. I am also unclear as to what kinds of dogs will indeed be available since they have not discussed training details with any of the families. Unless there is some mind reading powers I am unaware of, it seems impossible to train for a child’s specific needs without ever talking to the families about what those needs are.

It is now the middle of February. Flower bulbs are coming up in my garden as even the earth makes preparations  for the coming of spring, but preparations for service dogs remains unknown. Pepsi and Global Giving are sitting back hoping everyone just forgets about it. Other than my son (through the generosity of 4 Paws for Ability), it looks as though the children are going to be without the service dogs their families tried so hard to provide them with. Pepsi’s funding of the facility continues despite the fact that the families have been forgotten.

It seems as though the bad guys may indeed have won this particular battle. The ugly fact is we live in a fallen world, and sometimes bad things just happen to good people. It is not fair, but it is life. Despite that, I serve a God who remains in control and He has not forgotten these children. Perhaps things have not turned out the way we all would have liked, but the sheer fact that all of the families involved have been made aware before actually taking an untrained dog into their homes is indeed a sign of God’s protection.

A child with autism is already at a heightened risk for things like dog bites  (Siberian Huskies rank #4 as the breed most likely to bite) because of their unpredictable sounds and movements that could easily spook a dog that was not properly bred and trained to work with such a child. Our children could have actually been placed in danger from taking one of these dogs. One of the things most of the families were counting on in a service dog was for the child to be able to be tethered to the dog when out in public, so as to help prevent the child from wandering off, but still give them a bit more independence by allowing them to walk with the dog and adult team rather than ride in a special needs stroller. Can you just imagine an untrained dog out in public tethered to a child and seeing something as simple as a cat that it would like to chase? The results could have been disasterous. What about a child having a meltdown, screaming, kicking, hitting their head on the floor because the world has become too stressful and a dog sits there beside them…  an untrained dog that has not been properly breed or even socialized…… As terrible as all this has been, it could have been much worse.

So what now? Some of the families have been burned so badly in this that they have decided they will no longer pursue a service dog at all, others are making preparations now to find another organization and sit on a waiting list for years. Some are making plans to raise needed funds, a difficult task for families that had already asked their communities to support them when they were raising funds for a service dog from Animals for Autism or for families who were publicly portrayed as receiving a free service dog already.  Almost a  full year has been wasted for some of these families. A year that could have been spent obtaining a real service dog.

Why we are we all so upset with Pepsi and Global Giving? Because they changed what the funding was to be used for and when we brought our concerns to them, they assured us everything was fine. They told some of us we  simply had a personal problem. I myself was actually told by a Pepsi representative that they were, and I quote, “honored to work with her.” They told us to just sit and wait…. And be quiet. When the truth came to light, they covered things up rather than admitting a mistake. They are large organizations. They are hard to fight. They have millions of dollars at their disposal. We are just a handful of special needs families. The odds are on their side, but sometimes standing up for what is right is not about winning or losing…. It is about what is right.

My family is boycotting Pepsi. I ask for the rest of you to join us in this boycott . Until Pepsi pulls their funding from this “project” and stands for what is right, Pepsi will not enter my home. I have seen in the news other projects where they retrieved their funds, so they can do it in this case as well.

I am just one, but this one can affect another one who affects another one, and together we CAN all demand better for the families in this mess. I was just one when I voted for Lea Kaydus to get a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Program. She needed my help then, and I made a difference (an action I regret in that case). Hopefully this time I can make a difference for something good. Perhaps it will not matter to Pepsi at all, but at the very least, I will take a stand for what is right. I will be saying to my son and the other children involved…. You matter to me. After all, the children are what this was all supposed to be about.