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.
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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.
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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.

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

 

Special Education Recertification

I’m feeling pretty nervous. At 1:30 today we are meeting with Faith’s school for her special education recertification. Right now we have amazing services. Really, we have even more than we had hoped for when we made the decision to enter Faith into school 3 years ago. Faith has made AMAZING progress in the last 3 years, and I truly feel it is due to the wonderful support services she currently receives. I have no idea what services they are looking to keep, change or drop.

What I do know, they want to change her eligibility category from “Autism” to “Multiple Disabilities”. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Thoughts?

***** Update****

Here is the word for word from her new evaluation. Have I mentioned how much I love this school district? :)

With regard to continued Special Education services, Faith has been served under an Autism category for services. While the team agrees that this disability is valid, it does not reflect (in total) the additional and on-going physical health problems that impact Faith at school on a daily basis. Due to Faith’s on-going health difficulties in addition to her disability of Autism, the team recommends that Faith’s disability category be changed to that of Multiple Disabled. The team views that Faith has on-going health difficulties in combination with her disability of Autism. This combination requires a program and a level of support which cannot be met solely for a single disability.