Thursday Tirade

(I know, I know….It is supposed to be Thursday Thinking)

(But I’m riled up.)

(When I get riled up, it’s better for me to come here and vent instead of eating Cheetos.)

(Mmmmmmm……Cheetos……)

Morning Rant:

While trying to subscribe Faith to a monthly craft service, I had to lie about her birthdate in order to have the developmentally appropriate items sent.

How about instead of relying strictly on birthdate, allow parents to choose the level?

I feel like I’m denying Faith all the amazing progress she HAS made when I have to lie and say she is only 4 in order to have the proper items sent.

Rant Over.

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.

Danger, Will Robinson – Pepsi Pups Mess

As both Global Giving and Pepsi continue to turn their backs to the concerns being raised from all sides of the service dog community and the autism community, I would like to point out a few things.
Dogs are not robots. Even with the best training, they are living creatures who can and do act in unpredictable ways.
When this bite occurs, John Q Public is not going to think to themselves “Oh, that’s right, Global Giving changed the terms of the grant to only cover a building and supplies, therefore they are not in any way responsible.”
Nope. What John Q Public is going to think is, “OMG! Did you hear that one of those Pepsi Pups bit a child? How could Pepsi have let this happen? Do you remember how all those people tried to warn Pepsi? Why didn’t anyone listen! Those Pepsi Pups are dangerous!”
Below is another open letter sent to both Pepsi and Global Giving, once again trying to highlight the danger.
Hello,

This will be my last post sent to employees of Global Giving and Pepsi to get them to you in my month long attempt to get them to reverse their decision to give an individual with a sparse and poor track record with training dogs for service work and no specific training or organizational support for this role a $50,000 grant to create ten autism assistance dog placements with a single litter of Siberian Husky puppies for less than half true cost. Creating a boycott is my next plan, although I didn’t want it to come to this, as it seems a negative way to approach a problem that requires enlightenment on your end, not capitulation, but my attempts to find someone reasonable and reasonably powerful in your companies is proving impossible.

I’ve tried hard to explain to both of your companies that this is a dangerous concept (“idea”), that it should not have passed the initial due diligence stage of this grant as it puts children with autism at risk, and that a bite to a child is a very real danger posed by the execution of this poorly conceived “idea”.

I’ve passed along to you opinions from the experts in this field, who agree with me of the danger in this ill conceived and executed “idea.” Karen Shirk has been in the field of creating autism assistance dogs placements for thirteen years, and she is the first to offer this type of placement in the United States (her letter to you about this is included below, followed by the link to a report in the New York Times on both the benefit as well as the risk associated with partnering a child with a social, emotional or educational challenge with a canine companion). I’ve been in this field for a solid decade and you know how I feel; Charlie Petrizzo has been in the field nearly as long and his own letter follows Karen’s…

I’ve spoken to you all as if you were one person, in my attempt to find that one person in your respective companies who has both the power of reason and compassion as well as the power to change course on this dangerous concept before it continues to expand to include vulnerable children. To date, the only real tragedy has been the ten children with autism and their parents who are disappointed that they have not yet received their assistance dogs, or had a visit with their puppies in training, or even received a valid photo of them…all along I’ve been operating under the assumption that the true nature of the danger here goes beyond their disappointment, to what will happen if your help and funding allows this individual to actually deliver ten half grown, poorly socialized Siberian Huskies into the homes of ten families of children with autism who do not fully understand the danger here because they trust you with the safety of their vulnerable children. Your marketing has been very powerful in convincing people that you really do care about children and families, but your actions fly in the face of this assumption.

I spoken to the people in charge at Global Giving of the concept of due diligence and how they did not perform this adequately. In their defense, I believe this person did not set out to create a dangerous situation, but their stunning lack of knowledge about this emerging field caused them to make a dangerous mistake. Making mistakes is something that can be forgiven when the course is changed upon discovery by way of new information concerning the nature of the mistake, but failing to admit responsibility and cease to cause danger to children once you see it there is both immoral and against the law; no fancy contract has the power protect you here. The person I spoke with seemed to think a contract that states that they can switch the idea from creating ten autism assistance dog placements to building this individual a kennel to allow you to absolve your two companies and all people involved from the responsibility should any children be bitten or harmed in the future by this individual’s work with these children.

Because you clearly failed to do your due diligence, you will be responsible should any harm come to any of the children served by this individual who won the $50,000 and will be working with the Siberian Huskies she will be raising in the the kennel you are providing her with…having this building meet the building codes is the least of your worries here…

You have heard me, and tomorrow I will take every word I’ve written and mail several packages to the heads of both your companies that require signatures to be 100% diligent in doing my work of informing you all of the danger at hand…

Global Giving and Pepsi are still promising a springtime delivery of ten adolescent Siberian Husky dogs to the ten children with autism in question. They are not allowing the questions (below) to be answered that would assure them of the safety of this endeavor, and the two companies are threatening to simply replace any family who drops out with a new, less informed family.

My question to you is, who is going to take full responsibility, both financially and morally speaking, should one of these Siberian Husky dogs bite or kill one of the children with autism that they will be working with?

This question is not rhetorical, and on behalf of the ten families of children with autism that will receive a half grown, poorly socialized Siberian Husky to work closely with their child with autism, I demand an answer.

Sincerely,
Patty

Patty Dobbs Gross
Executive Director
North Star Foundation
www.NorthStarDogs.com
northstarfoundation@charter.net
We help children find their way.

All in one place – Animals For Autism & the Pepsi Mess

Todays post is a reference post with a one-stop-shop of newspaper articles, news clips and blogs of the families involved.

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES:

Chicago Tribune

Kitsap Sun

My Northwest

NEWS CLIPS

WICS – Springfield, IL

KING – Seattle, WA

WCPO – Cincinnati, OH

WCTV – Tallahassee, FL  

MY POSTS

http://www.mommyrambles.com/pepsi-pups-posts-animals-for-autism/

BLOGS

Stinker Babies 

Making Waves 

Dogs With a Cause 

Speaking 4 Sam 

Autism Papa

 

Hide and Seek – Animals For Autism

The exchange copied below was not sent to the families involved in the Pepsi Mess. It was not placed anywhere in response to THE FAMILIES questions, letters, emails, pleading for answers.
It was only found because the families are still trying to get answers.
I’m not sure how “We have also encouraged the grantee to be in more regular communication with the families going forward, to which she has agreed.” translated into “Take down your Facebook page”, but as of a couple of days ago, that is exactly what Lea/LM/Millie Kaydus did.
The families have asked, repeatedly, for something in writing. Really, is it that hard to do? Not phone calls, no more “he said, she said”, but in writing.
They have asked, repeatedly, for a picture. A simple picture! Some families have been asking for 10 (TEN!) months for a simple picture to share with their special needs children.
They have asked to know WHO is training the dogs promised to the children.
And yet, no one will answer….
Why are you not responding to the questions being asked about the Animals for Autism Pepsi Refresh Grant fiasco? It’s about time for Global Giving and Pepsi to admit that they made a mistake in supporting Lea Kaydus and Animals for Autism and do something to make it right for the CHILDREN!
    • GlobalGiving

      Hi Kelly, we appreciate your concern for the families involved with this grant. We wrote a blog post about our monitoring process here: http://blog.globalgiving.org/2012/01/27/animals-for-autism/
      We are listening and we still have an open offer to any of the families who are still involved with the program to discuss their concerns one-on-one. The blog questions that you’re referring to span across a number of issues/people but we’d be happy to address the ones that we can.
      19 hours ago · 
    • Kelly S***k

      then why haven’t you or Lea Kaydus provided pictures or video of the dogs in training? why haven’t the families been better informed during this process? why did she go “off the grid” multiple times including now – her website and facebook page were taken down? if you supposedly did a site evaluation/inspection we not post pictures of the site – surely you took pictures of the dogs being trained in their new facility. this whole thing smells fishy. can you say COVER UP???!!!!
      18 hours ago · 
    • GlobalGiving

      We can only speak for ourselves. As the grant administrator, GlobalGiving is trying to balance our commitment to transparency with the grantee’s right to privacy. We fully appreciate that the lack of public information is very frustrating for the families. We can say, based on our contact and site visit, that 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. As noted in our blog post, 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.
      16 hours ago · 

Sit down and shut up

I have been asked a couple times why I am being so vocal about the Pepsi Pups mess.

“Didn’t you withdraw from this program back in August? What does this have to do with you anymore?”

Back in July (yes, it has been that long) when Jimmy and I first started trying to get straight answers from anyone, we were basically told “Sit down and shut up. It’s a free dog.”

Nothing was adding up. The more we looked, the more confused we became.

“Do you know service dogs usually cost $15,000? You are getting a free dog. Sit down and shut up.”

We looked even more. We talked even more. We realized that this was a bad situation. A scary situation. A situation in which children could be hurt.

No one would listen to us.

Yes, we need a safe, trained service dog. Yes we desperately wanted a free service dog as promised.

Imagine with me:

In an economy of 80% unemployment, you land a job. IT”S A JOB! You have a job! It’s the most amazing thing ever! Finally, you can take a breath, and know that all is well. You have a paycheck coming!

First day on the job, a toaster drops out of no where and lands on your head. 

Damn. What just happened? 

You look around. All your co-workers are standing back up, brushing toast crumbs off themselves and sitting back at their desks. 

You ask the girl next to you “Did you just get hit with a toaster?” She answers, “Yes, but sit down and ignore it. We are just lucky to have a job.”

You keep going to work each day. You keep getting hit with a toaster.

You talk with the upper management. You talk with the owners. You are told “Sit down and shut up. Do you realize how lucky you are to even have a job?”

You get to know your co-workers. They are wonderful people in desperate situations. The NEED this job just as much as you do. They need it to the point that they are willing to ignore that they keep getting hit with toasters. 

You know getting hit with toasters every day is wrong. 

“Sit down and shut up.”

One morning you can’t take getting hit with another toaster. What can you do to draw attention to the fact that this is not how it is at other workplaces? Talking to higher ups hasn’t worked. Your co-workers are scared to lose their job. 

You quit your job. Who in their right mind would quit a job when it is so desperately needed? Someone who was frantically trying to show that something is wrong. Someone who wants to save their co-workers. Someone who wants to draw attention to how wrong it is at this place of employment. Someone who when they tried to draw attention when they worked there was told “Well, it can’t be that bad, you ALL are still working there. So sit down and shut up.”

Jimmy and I withdrew Faith from this program because we felt it would have the greatest impact. Who the hell gives up a free service dog that normally costs $15,000?

Someone who was desparatly trying to make people see that this was messed up.

Do I want a service dog for my daughter? Oh hell yes.

Do I feel like I am still part of the Pepsi Pups families? Oh hell yes.

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.
****************************************************
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.
****************************************************
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.