What $50,000 can buy

Since this Pepsi Pup scam has been hitting the media, I have been getting contacted by people who have had dealings with Lea Kaydus.

Not a single person has had a positive experience.

Ever wonder what you can buy with $50,000 from Pepsi?

A puppy mill! A puppy mill from Pepsi, won by exploiting special needs children.

And even if it was voted upon as training for 10 dogs to be placed with 10 children, don’t worry! Global Giving will let you change it.

No problem. Now you don’t need to worry about those children upon whose backs you won the $50,000. Now you can build a puppy mill, and just call it “the spirit of the grant”!

Wonder what is happening with Animals For Autism / Siberian Snow Babies? Here are some snippets from people who have dealt with her :

“To make matter’s worse, the puppy almost died, it was so sick with worms”

“…none of the dogs there have ever been trained. They aren’t house broken much less trained as service dogs.”

“Lea’s told people the recipients misunderstood her intentions of the grant money.  The service dogs were to be given free of charge but the winners had to pay for training.”

“Never did allow us to go in and see the parents.”

“The weird part was she requested we make the check payable to her husband George Kaydus.”

Want to see what $50,000 from Pepsi buys?


Before Pepsi

And after:

After Pepsi

I also notice a new fence. Looking through public records we found the request for a variance to build the fence. That’s a mighty big one. Must have cost quite a bit also. Funny thing is….she couldn’t even afford to feed the dogs. She had to put them in emergency shelters. I wonder who paid for that fence? I CAN afford to pay for food for my pets and there is no way I could pay for that big of a fence.

To responsible breeders I would like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry I promoted Lea Kaydus during the Pepsi Refresh Grant. I’m sorry I asked people to vote for her. I’m sorry I voted for her. I’m sorry I used all the Power Codes she sent me to vote for her. I’m sorry.

To legitimate service dog organizations I would also like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry if the scam wrought by Lea Kaydus is calling into question any of your good intentions to help people with disabilities.

The Punchline

A sailor, a preacher, a nurse and a single mom walking into a puppy mill funded by Pepsi….

Oh, I forgot…

This isn’t a joke.

If you are interested, the actual lawsuit filed against Lea Kaydus dba Animals For Autism (aka Siberian Snow Babies) by the Illinois Attorney General can be read in it’s entirety HERE.

How am I feeling about this?

I don’t know.

At the end of the day, Lea Kaydus gets to keep her puppy mill that she built with the $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Grant.

You remember the grant, right? The one that was supposed to go toward the training fees of 10 service dogs. The grant that was changed AFTER the voting was complete to fund tangible goods like a puppy mill.

A puppy mill, funded by Pepsi, won by exploiting special needs children.

No jokes here.

Animals For Autism – finally

Approximately 18 months ago, my family thought we had found something that would help our daughter. A service dog from Animals For Autism. Instead what happened was 18 months of stress, anxiety, sadness, and even fear.

Our family and many others were pulled into a scam. A scam orchestrated by a woman, Lea Kaydus, against special needs children. I’m not going to go over every step of the scam in this post, but if you are interested, the chronological postings of what we went through can be found HERE.

Our family, along with almost all the families that we know of, attempted to bring what Animals For Autism was doing to light. We told anyone who would listen. Media, Blogs, the Attorney General and of course, Pepsi and Global Giving.

Oh, how we tried to tell Global Giving.

We presented our facts over and over.

We were brushed off. Ignored. Told that we were wrong. Told that Global Giving and Pepsi were honored to work with Lea Kaydus. Told that we just had a personal issue against her. Told that we just needed to sit down and shut up.

Told that Global Giving stood behind Animals For Autism and Lea Kaydus 100%. That they were happy with how Lea Kaydus had spent the $50,000 they gave to her. That since she “fulfilled the spirit of the grant to the best of her ability”, they felt it was all sunshine and bunnies.

Funny thing is…

When the Attorney General of Illinois saw the exact same facts that were presented to Global Giving, not only were they concerned, they were concerned enough to issue the following press release today:


For Immediate Release Media Contact: Maura Possley 

August 23, 2012 312-814-3118 


Follow OAG on: 



Attorney General: Proposed Judgment to Require Downstate Woman to Reimburse Families Waiting for Service Dogs 

Springfield – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit and a proposed consent judgment against a downstate woman who cheated families across the country out of thousands of dollars in payments for service dogs to assist children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Madigan filed her lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against Glenarm resident Lea Kaydus and her organization, Animals for Autism. The lawsuit alleges that for more than a year, Kaydus solicited donations and payments from families in Illinois and around the country to match them with specially trained dogs to serve as companions for their children. To date, Madigan said, none of the families who paid for the service has received a trained dog as promised by Kaydus. 

Madigan’s lawsuit states that Kaydus’ Animals for Autism advertised it would specially train Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies for $3,000 to $8,000 and then pair the dogs with families to assist their children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kaydus promised families that they initially would be introduced to their dog in person or via teleconference calls and then would receive frequent updates until the dogs were trained and ready to be placed in families’ homes. 

Families in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, California and Washington sent payments to Kaydus and were led to believe over the course of several months that Kaydus was training dogs to place in their homes. In some cases, families received pictures of puppies, though those images were taken years earlier and depicted dogs that weren’t involved in Kaydus’ supposed training program. One family received a photo of a puppy that was purportedly born in 2011, though Madigan’s investigation revealed the picture was actually taken in 2007. 

Madigan said Kaydus has collected at least $5,190 from families in the scheme. The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and Solicitation for Charity Act against Kaydus and her organization. The proposed consent judgment filed with Madigan’s lawsuit would require that Kaydus provide restitution to affected families. 

Assistant Attorney General Melodi Green handled this case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau. 


If you think in terms of win/lose, I think this is classified as a win.

But it feels very much like a lose. We lost 18 months. We lost our innocence. We lost our trust. We simply lost.

Thirteen families will never be the same.

Thirteen children were taken advantage of.

And not a single “I’m sorry.”

Pepsi and Global Giving, are you still honored to work with Lea Kaydus?

Chicago Tribune update story

WICS Top Story video

:confused: – Pepsi Pups

Am I the only person who feels that the following two statements are contradictory?

Global Giving blog entry “Animals For Autism” dated Jan 27th 2012

“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.”

“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.”

Chicago Tribune article June 6th, 2012

“Global Giving representatives who visited the central Illinois facility in the winter reported that Kaydus was training the dogs, even if they had been temporarily relocated to other homes when the trainer ran low on funds.”

“Although the Pepsi Refresh voting site stated the grant would go to “train and place free service dogs with autistic kids,” Global Giving has said the terms of the grant do not require actual delivery and that the money may be spent on items that go “toward realizing the spirit of the grant,” such as building kennels and caring for the dogs.”

Another (no)update – Pepsi Pups

Are you here looking for the latest on the Pepsi Pups? (All previous posts are here)

An update?

Keep looking.

Even the Chicago Tribune ran a No-Update Update on this whole mess.

Once again, Lea Kaydus, the founder of Animals For Autism (who is an individual and not an organization…..) is gone.

Global Giving is not giving any updates.

Pepsi, well we have already established that Pepsi doesn’t care.

Out of the original 13 families, not a single one I was able to contact has heard ANYTHING. Even though they have been calling, and emailing and ASKING for information.

Why the silence?

I would think that if the grantee is on schedule with her expected completion date, someone would be shouting that from the rooftops.

What is the secret?

Besides the fact that the grant period ended March 31st.

And I have not heard of a single well-trained service dog being delivered by Lea Kaydus.

I have heard of a very poorly trained dog being delivered to a family that was not part of the Pepsi Pups. That dog was so unsocialized and poorly trained that the family was forced to abandon all hope of using that particular dog and have had to start back with another service dog organization.

So………have you heard anything? Because the families the $50,000 grant was supposed to benefit have not.

And I know you are reading my blog.

Something is Rotten Pt 2 – Pepsi Pups

Last week I touched a bit on the Pepsi Refresh Grant. I mentioned that it was basically a contest where people vote, and the idea with the most votes, wins funding. Actually, to be more specific, the top 10 ideas in each category win funding.

So it’s a big popularity contest.

If you want to support an idea, you may vote online once per day, and via text once per day, for a total of 2 votes per person, per day.

M’kay. That is simple enough.

In a household like mine, with three people eligible to vote, that means we could vote 6 times a day for our favorite.

But wait…..have you heard of Power Votes?

On each Pepsi product, there was a single code. So, on a 20 ounce soda, you would get one Power Vote code. On the box of a 12 can pack, you would get 1 Power Vote code. On a 24 can case you would get one power vote code. You get the idea.

The Power Votes are pretty darn important because each person can enter up to 10 Power Votes per day. TEN. So in a household such as mine, that would be 30 additional votes per day.

But wait it gets better.

Each Power Code, when entered, was actually good for UP TO 100 VOTES. If you are keeping track here, that means that in my household, there was the potential for 3000 votes a day.

You read that right. Three Thousand a day. Or if you want to be all picky about it, 3006 votes per day. Over the 30 days voting took place, that is 90,180 possible votes.

But, that is assuming of course that a family was to purchase 30 Pepsi products a day in order to obtain the 30 codes needed to Power Vote.

That’s a lot of Pepsi.

Lea Kaydus, acting as an individual and not an organization, found a way around that pesky problem.

I am not sure exactly how she found a way around that problem, but she did. Like a miracle floating down from the sky, every single day during the active voting of the Pepsi Refresh grant, there were 30 Power Vote codes emailed to us. 

Along with the magically appearing codes came the warning – You must use different computers to use each 10 votes. Each 10 votes must come from a different IP address.

And like dutiful sheep, we used those 30 Power Vote codes, every day, and we Power Voted for Lea Kaydus.

At that time I didn’t question it. I should have, but I didn’t. We were just so gosh darn happy to be helping the awesome founder of Animals For Autism win a grant to fund the training of 10 service dogs to be placed with deserving children in spring ’12.

Not to build a “facility”….. but I digress.

So somehow, every single day Lea Kaydus came up with codes from 30 Pepsi products. Just for my family, she somehow got the codes from 900 Pepsi products during the month of May. Just for MY family. 

That would sure be a lot of potty breaks!

Now, what if I told you that she was sending even more codes to other families. Lots more. Some households were receiving 70 Power Votes a day.


Math on that one…. 70 codes x possible 100 votes = 70,000 votes A DAY x 30 days…..2,100,000 votes possible.

Did I mention she was sending these mysteriously obtained Power Codes to multiple families?

The couple of times she was questioned about where she was obtaining all these codes resulted in two different answers.

Answer 1 – Why, they are being donated by the sweet people in her community.

Answer 2 – Gosh golly, her local Pepsi distributer thinks she is so amazing that they are giving her all the codes.

So, uh…where did they come from?

Shades of problems past eh?

It feels awkward so….

…I am only going to mention this a couple of times.

We have created a ChipIn account to help with the travel expenses we will incur while training with Faith’s service dog.

We will be traveling, probably by plane, to Ohio. We will then need to stay in a hotel for two weeks while we  train with Faith’s new canine partner and learn to work together as a team.

I will have a little widget thingy on the side bar of Mommy Rambles….scroll down a bit to see it.

You can also access the page directly through this link:

4 Paws 4 Faith Chip In Page

Thank you.

Turn the page – Pepsi Pups Mess

Have you ever read a book that was so engrossing, that held you so riveted….

…..that when you hit the last page….

…..you sat there, looking at that last page….

And all you could think was “No.” This can not be over. I still have questions. I want to know what happened next!

So you toss the book aside and swear never to read another book by that author because how dare they leave you hanging like that! Then you stomp into the other room and complain to your husband about how unfair the book was to end like that!

Ok, maybe that last part was just me.


I think we are reaching the end of the Pepsi Pups book. Unfortunately it’s not a clean ending. There are way more questions than answers.

Answers seem hard to come by when dealing with Multi-billion dollar companies or a woman (remember kids, she applied for the $50,000 grant as an individual, not as Animals For Autism) who falls off the grid when it comes to communication.

Pepsi, well they don’t really give a darn. Really, it’s just $50,000. And regardless of HOW Lea Kaydus spent that money, they still get the same tax write off. It doesn’t matter to them that the voted upon grant was for training to place 10 service animals. It doesn’t matter to them that Global Giving, by Lea’s own written statement, REQUIRED her to change the grant after voting to fund tangible goods such as a facility.

Global Giving, well they don’t really give a darn either. Service dogs? That’s not in the funding any more. Lea is building her facility just fine. According to Lea’s Facebook status’s (before she took that down, just like her website. Oh, I’m sorry, that is right! That was never her website. It was just donated space from Siberian Snow Babies…..which is her website.) Global Giving MADE her change the line by line budget to cover the tangible goods. And since the tangible facility is all fine and good, well, who cares about the voted upon original grant’s families. Remember them? The families? Apparently not. No service dogs? No problem. The facility is right on track.

Too bad almost everyone we have talked to would NOT have voted on a facility.

Lea Kaydus?

Disappeared again. Of the original 13 families, out of the 9 I was able to check in with, NOT ONE has heard from her.

Poof. Gone.

And all the powers that be are a-ok with that. After all, it’s just $50,000. Oh, and the hopes and dreams of 13 children.

I’m not ok with this. The parents I am in contact with, who were promised well-trained service dogs for their children – delivered in Spring ’12 – are not ok with this.

Our story part one – CLICK HERE 

To have your heart-broken, and understand why this makes me so mad – CLICK HERE 

Our story part two – CLICK HERE 

(even more information, spanning the last year can be found HERE.)

I think I will be calling this post – The Last Page.

But this is not the end. It is only the end of this volume.

I hope Book Two will have more answers.

And a new chapter begins

Regular readers of my blog are very familiar with the trials my family, and the rest of the Pepsi Pups families have been put through in the past year. It has tested our resolve, our strength and our personal determination.

While I do wish I could report that justice has been served, alas it has not.

A few months ago we learned the amazing news of a Pepsi Pups family in Ohio. They were blown over by the news that Karen Shirk from 4 Paws For Ability was stepping up where Lea Kaydus – Animal for Autism, Pepsi and Global Giving failed. 4 Paws For Ability was offering this family a much needed service dog, fully funded! What an amazing lifeline, tossed by someone who could have simply looked the other way but chose not to. Who saw a wrong and made the decision to make it right. October they will be blessed with a service dog.


A few weeks ago, another family devastated by the Pepsi Pup scam was contacted by 4 Paws For Ability. Karen once again could not let the mess wrought by  Animals For Autism, Global Giving and Pepsi quietly be swept under the rug. She once again offered a lifeline to a family with little hope left. The news that she was offering another, fully funded, fully trained autism service dog to this Florida family brought much joy! March ’13 they will be blessed with a service dog.


This morning I woke up to an email from Karen Shirk at 4 Paws For Ability.

(edited a bit…..)

Faith will be in our January 2013 class to get her new service dog (YES FOR REAL ;0)   I will be able to tell you who to thank in a bit.  

It is a true sin what Lea did and we are happy to be able to bring some good to the end of the story at least for the three families we are able to help :0)

Karen Shirk, Executive Director 4 Paws For Ability, Inc.

I am humbled and tearful. I am almost speechless.

More when I can type without crying…..