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I am not going to take any time to rehash the story – it has not changed since the first time, if this is your first time visiting the site please see the summary posted on our Dogs with a Cause site.  I have been trying to bring to light to what I feel has been a serious shortcoming in an otherwise beneficial community relations project – Pepsi’s Refresh Everything Project.

Lea Kaydus, and her Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism “program” has all but disappeared from the face of the planet.  She has removed the website in its entirety, removed the main Facebook page (although there are other pages that are listed as “private pages” that still exist) and does not want to admit any wrongdoing on her part.  She took advantage of countless parents of special needs children, promising them that she would provide a highly trained service dog to assist their child.  She recruited the help of thousands in her quest to become a grantee in the Pepsi Refresh Everything project – sending out daily reminders to vote and encouraging her supporters to recruit additional help.  And then she was awarded the $50,000 from Pepsi.

And then there was celebrating; especially those who were supporting her campaign day-in and day-out.  Maybe not as much as Lea Kaydus and her family though.  Soon after the announcement that they had achieved their grant there was silence.


If we thought we were not hearing any updates before this point we were seriously mistaken.  However, we were assured by the grant administrators that all was well.  It would not be too much longer, just be patient.  Concerns were voiced to them, and ignored.  All was well – we only had to trust.

The Office of the Attorney General of Illinois has been involved.  Ms. Kaydus has committed fraud – she promised a service, promised goods, collected monies and has provided nothing except excuses.  It has now been 15 months since we began this path with Lea and George Kaydus and their Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism program.  Fifteen months and yet she has not yet managed to deliver even ONE fully trained service dog to any one of the families with which she had an agreement.  She has managed to sell puppies on PuppyFind.com and post ads up on eBay and elsewhere.  I can only assume that she has successfully sold puppies through those venues as well.  At one point she claimed that it was due to lack of money to continue to care & train the dogs.  I would like to point out that Lea and George Kaydus received $50,000 from Pepsi through the Pepsi Refresh Project to do just that.  They chose to spend that money to build and upgrade their “facility” instead.  They very publicly announced on Facebook that since the grant was awarded to Lea Kaydus as an individual that she could spend the money in the way that she saw fit.  I am sure that more people would have “participated” as grant applicants had they realized that Pepsi would give them money, especially in that amount, that they would not be held accountable for how it was utilized.

The grant administrator for Lea Kaydus at GlobalGiving.org, KC Ellis, even made a trip to the new “facility” after more of the families began to complain and ask for help.  She reportedly saw  dogs being actively trained.  This next section is an excerpt from GlobalGiving.org’s Facebook wall.

Kelly S
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!
Like · · Yesterday at 9:42am ·


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 · Like

Kelly S

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 · Like


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 · Like

Spring of 2012 has come and gone.  We are now into Summer 2012 and yet nothing from Lea Kaydus.  No training updates to any of the families.  No expected graduation dates for the dogs she has in “training” for them.  No contact whatsoever.

GlobalGiving.org and Pepsi have both washed their hands of this.  It is now outside the grant period.  As far as GlobalGiving.org is concerned Lea Kaydus utilized the grant she was awarded properly and in the “spirit” of the grant.  Forget that she merely expanded her backyard breeding program.

If this is what corporate responsibility has become, I am not impressed.  At this point, I hope that the Illinois Attorney General’s office will pursue criminal charges against Ms. Lea Kaydus.  Her “program” was nothing more than a service dog scam which took more from the families involved than just money.  She robbed them of hope in a better future for their children and trampled on the trust that was given her.


Memorial Day: Lest We Forget

The photo, taken by New York Times's Todd Heisler while he was a staff photographer at Rocky Mountain News in 2005. The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her.
The night before the burial of her husband, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the coffin, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her.
Todd Heisler/The Rocky Mountain News, via Associated Press
The night before the burial of her husband, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the coffin, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her.

I would like to leave you with one final picture as Memorial Day comes to a close.  A reminder that for many it is not just a day and the remembrance lasts throughout the year.  There are many who have lost a part of them that can never be replaced.  The photo above was taken by photographer Todd Heisler and is from his 2005 award-wining series for The Rocky Mountain News, “Jim Comes Home.”

And from The Rocky Mountain News special report Final Salute by Jim Sheeler
©2005 Rocky Mountain News the story that precedes the photo.

Inside a limousine parked on the airport tarmac, Katherine Cathey looked out at the clear night sky and felt a kick.

“He’s moving,” she said. “Come feel him. He’s moving.”

Her two best friends leaned forward on the soft leather seats and put their hands on her stomach.

“I felt it,” one of them said. “I felt it.”

Outside, the whine of jet engines swelled.

“Oh, sweetie,” her friend said. “I think this is his plane.”

As the three young women peered through the tinted windows, Katherine squeezed a set of dog tags stamped with the same name as her unborn son:

James J. Cathey.

“He wasn’t supposed to come home this way,” she said, tightening her grip on the tags, which were linked by a necklace to her husband’s wedding ring.

The women looked through the back window. Then the 23-year-old placed her hand on her pregnant belly.

“Everything that made me happy is on that plane,” she said.

They watched as airport workers rolled a conveyor belt to the rear of the plane, followed by six solemn Marines.

Katherine turned from the window and closed her eyes.

“I don’t want it to be dark right now. I wish it was daytime,” she said. “I wish it was daytime for the rest of my life. The night is just too hard.”

Suddenly, the car door opened. A white-gloved hand reached into the limousine from outside – the same hand that had knocked on Katherine’s door in Brighton five days earlier.

The man in the deep blue uniform knelt down to meet her eyes, speaking in a soft, steady voice.

“Katherine,” said Maj. Steve Beck, “it’s time.”

Closer than brothers

The American Airlines 757 couldn’t have landed much farther from the war.

The plane arrived in Reno on a Friday evening, the beginning of the 2005 “Hot August Nights” festival – one of the city’s biggest – filled with flashing lights, fireworks, carefree music and plenty of gambling.

When a young Marine in dress uniform had boarded the plane to Reno, the passengers smiled and nodded politely. None knew he had just come from the plane’s cargo hold, after watching his best friend’s casket loaded onboard.

At 24 years old, Sgt. Gavin Conley was only seven days younger than the man in the coffin. The two had met as 17-year-olds on another plane – the one to boot camp in California. They had slept in adjoining top bunks, the two youngest recruits in the barracks.

All Marines call each other brother. Conley and Jim Cathey could have been. They finished each other’s sentences, had matching infantry tattoos etched on their shoulders, and cracked on each other as if they had grown up together – which, in some ways, they had.

When the airline crew found out about Conley’s mission, they bumped him to first-class. He had never flown there before. Neither had Jim Cathey.

On the flight, the woman sitting next to him nodded toward his uniform and asked if he was coming or going. To the war, she meant.

He fell back on the words the military had told him to say: “I’m escorting a fallen Marine home to his family from the situation in Iraq.”

The woman quietly said she was sorry, Conley said.

Then she began to cry.

When the plane landed in Nevada, the pilot asked the passengers to remain seated while Conley disembarked alone. Then the pilot told them why.

The passengers pressed their faces against the windows. Outside, a procession walked toward the plane. Passengers in window seats leaned back to give others a better view. One held a child up to watch.

From their seats in the plane, they saw a hearse and a Marine extending a white-gloved hand into a limousine, helping a pregnant woman out of the car.

On the tarmac, Katherine Cathey wrapped her arm around the major’s, steadying herself. Then her eyes locked on the cargo hold and the flag-draped casket.

Inside the plane, they couldn’t hear the screams.


Get Your Boots On! Join the Boot Campaign.


Memorial Day weekend is this weekend and today I would like to highlight an incredible grass-roots initiative started by five phenomenal women from Texas collectively known as the Boot Girls.  Please take a few moments out of your day, and get to know a little about them and their cause.  Their work continues to touch many lives and you can be a part.

And rather than spend a lot of time retelling their story – I would encourage you to click on the picture above and visit their site.  Explore their site, join in the growing chorus of musicians, entertainers, athletes, celebrities and everyday people and get YOUR boots on!

You can find them on Facebook and Twitter; check out the photos on Flickr and the videos on YouTube.

Post by Katie Bryan, America Saves Communication Manager

April is Financial Literacy month and Military Saves wants to make sure you understand the importance of your credit history and how this ties into successful saving. It is important for all Americans to have savings. Having a savings account allows you to pay for emergencies, gives you financial freedom, and can help you avoid credit problems that could adversely affect credit scores.

Having a strong credit history, reflected in good credit scores, is also important because it allows you to qualify for lower interest rates and fees, freeing up additional money to set aside for emergencies, retirement, and other smaller unexpected expenses.

The connection between successful savings and good credit plays an important role in your financial life. Not only is it essential for obvious things like qualifying for a loan or getting a credit card, but also for less obvious things like getting cellular telephone service, renting a car, and perhaps even getting a job. Servicemembers can also be affected by poor credit in regard to their security clearance.

Want to learn more about the importance of credit history and successful savings?

Download the Importance of Credit History and Successful Savings packet, which includes information on:

• What is a Credit Report and Score?
• Why is Saving So Important?
• How do I Start Saving?
• What Savings Options Are Available to Me?
• Why is Good Credit Management so Important?
• 5 Tips for Building Good Credit.
• Frequently Asked Credit Questions.
• FDIC Model Safe Accounts.

What are you waiting for?

Set a Goal.
• Pay down debt, save automatically, and assess and improve your credit history. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com

Make a Plan.
• Improve your credit history by making the minimum payment on all bills, keeping balances low on sources of credit, and applying for credit wisely. (learn more here)

Save Automatically.
• In order to have good credit scores you must demonstrate a habit of good credit management over a long period of time. Set up direct deposit or put part of your check into 2 a savings account automatically each month to pay down debt and ensure you have enough money for emergencies.

Are you ready to take charge of your financial future?
Military Saves is here to help. Military Saves can help you develop your goals and take action. When you Take the Pledge, you’ll receive the following benefits: • In 2012 servicemembers and their spouses who Take the Pledge can also receive their free credit score from myFICO (the code will be available on the website after the pledge is taken or in through the welcome email from Military Saves) • Free monthly e‐mail newsletters with savings advice from national experts • Free subscription to the quarterly American Saver newsletter 3


Pepsi Pup Service Dogs, GlobalGiving and a Hero

I thought it was about time for an update on the whole Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism husky service dog fiasco.  If you are not sure what I am talking about I would like to direct you back to previous posts and all the stress and heartache that Lea Kaydus and her cohorts so thoughtfully gave to thirteen families with Autistic children.  It has been quite the campaign – one that at times seemed to not be important to anyone except a few of those thirteen families.  There have been a few happy developments in this story – none courtesy of Lea Kaydus, Siberian Snow Babies, GlobalGiving.org, or Pepsi.  These are good; honestly and truly good.

We have been contacted over the past several months with Terri Marvel Wible – founder of Paws 4 Autism, Patty Dobbs Gross – founder and Executive Director of the North Star Foundation,  and Karen Shirk – Executive Director of 4 Paws for Ability, Inc.  As amazing as the foundations they are associated with.

Terri came across the Pepsi Pup story and established a fund to assist the families directly affected by the Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism Pepsi Refresh scam.  All monies collected will be distributed equally between the families affected. ZERO monies will be used for administration or other programming.  Thank you Terri!

Patty dedicated quite a lot of time and energy in an effort to get executives at both Pepsi and GlobalGiving.org to reconsider the wisdom the grant given to Lea Kaydus as part of the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project to several litters of her Siberian Huskies as service dogs for 10 autistic children spread across the country.  It appears that Pepsi and GlobalGiving.org  have chosen to ignore the numerous emails, and letters they have received on behalf of the families lucky enough to be “chosen” as recipients.
**I would like to say that I am not saying that a Siberian Husky could not be a service dog; but an inexperienced service dog trainer expecting each dog to make it all the way through training with no drop-outs, and no back-up dogs is fraught with trouble**

Karen and her organization stepped forward in January to make things right for one of the families by providing them with a fully funded service dog after hearing of the story on their local news.  Each and every bit of good news was met with enthusiasm by our small group of families.  At this point we weren’t receiving much of it as far as service dogs were concerned.  And here was a NATIONALLY-KNOWN service dog training organization with 500+ placements telling one of our families that they would in fact be receiving a service dog.  Wow!!  What great news.  Again in April, another of the families received the same wonderful news from Karen.  Once again, we were so very happy to hear some good news…and then days later we received an email simply titled “SMILE” giving us the same incredible news.

To the Veterans Group who made this possible for my family – Thank you!! I am deeply grateful for your compassion and generosity.  Thank you.

Thank you as well to all those who have helped us get the story out there.  Thank you Jesse Jones, Mike Brooks, Jessica Noll, Linda Thomas, Chris Henry, and all those who shared on their blogs, Facebook pages, and in their Tweets.

It saddens me to know that this is not an isolated case but rather one that happens on a somewhat regular basis.  To all those looking for service animals – please check references, look for organizations registered as charities with the IRS/local state Attorney General’s office, Better Business Bureau ratings, and speak with prior placements.



Reality Bites. Hope the Pepsi Pups Don’t

Right here, right now I have to go on the assumption that both Pepsi and their grant administration company, GlobalGiving.org, both know all about Lea Kaydus and her “organization”.  There have been a few of us doing our best to bring it to light.  Both companies have received letters and/or phone calls from founders/directors of nationally recognized service dog training organizations expressing their concerns and yet they continue to support Lea Kaydus.  Why is that?

Reality Bites.

Those companies, Pepsi and GlobalGiving.org, don’t want to admit that they have not properly done due diligence where this one grant is concerned.  The original grant, to provide training fees to place 10 autism service dogs, was a noble one but perhaps not reasonable especially as written.  Then there was the modified grant…Lea Kaydus claimed on her Facebook page that the grant administrators at GlobalGiving.org required her to modify her grant to cover the cost of tangible items such as facility improvements, and upgrades, kennel supplies, and other hardware, rather than the training fees she had initially requested.  GlobalGiving.org claims that we, all the people who voted to fund the original idea, have no right to know what is being funded or why the grant agreement was changed.  Not very transparent.

Reality Bites.

I will admit that when the idea of getting a service dog for my daughter came up that I did not know enough about service dogs or the proper training of a service dog.  I was lulled into a false sense of security by Lea Kaydus and the Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism program since Ms. Kaydus claims to also be a parent of an autistic child.  I wanted to believe the information posted on her web site, the information publicly posted in her “press releases” on PR Log, and failed to verify her claims.

Reality Bites.

In their attempt at the classic, yet very flawed CYA move, Pepsi and GlobalGiving.org have lent the credibility of their companies to Lea Kaydus and the “organization” that was known for a while as Animals for Autism.  For many people it is unfathomable that a company would just give $50,000 to someone without actually verifying their credentials.  I realize now that $50,000 is really not much money to a multi-national company that generates more than $300 million in retail sales daily.  Yes, that was $300,000,000 in retail sales DAILY.

Reality Bites.

Lea Kaydus cut all communication with the families she was “helping” with her endeavor so generously funded by Pepsi.  She refused to answer even basic questions.  She told me that our pup-to-be, Bella, was so highly trained at 4 months old that she could not possibly be of any use to anyone else if we left her program.  The Pepsi Pups at this moment should be almost one year-old and nearly full-grown.  GlobalGiving.org Chief Business Officer Donna Callejon has stated that when GlobalGiving.org conducted their “site visit” of the Animals for Autism facility they verified the presence of “about 20 puppies” at the facility.  Now Lea Kaydus has been selling puppies on PuppyFind.com at $650/pup.  The DOGS that were the Pepsi Pups back in March, 2011 must have been out for a walk at the time of their visit.  I hope that those DOGS are properly trained, able to resist the temptation to bolt that plagues even the most highly trained Husky, and does not choose to reprimand its charge for unpredictable behavior.  How would that go over with those folks who trusted Pepsi’s faith in GlobalGiving.org’s due diligence process.

Ms. Nooyi, would you be willing to bring a pair of these “highly-trained, autism service dogs” into the halls of your company to work alongside the members of the Pepsi Puppy Partnership(P3)?  After reading our stories, and comparing the sources of information, would you be comfortable knowing that these animals are guaranteed access into your corporate offices?  Is anyone in the upper management of Pepsi or GlobalGiving.org willing to foster a pair of these dogs for a month?  Are you willing to give such a public display of trust?  And yet our families are expected to do so even though we have been repeatedly lied to by Lea Kaydus and all those who had to have seen what has transpired.

Reality Bites. Willing to bet a “Pepsi Pup” from Siberian Snow Babies will too.

-Excerpt from the PepsiCo Code of Conduct


We are committed to the continuation of free
enterprise and the legal and regulatory
frameworks that support it. Therefore, we
recognize the importance of laws that prohibit
restraints of trade, predatory economic
activities and unfair, deceptive or unethical
business practices.
In all of our business dealings with
consumers, customers, suppliers and
competitors, we will:
• Avoid any unfair or deceptive practice and
always present our services and products in
an honest and forthright manner.
• Treat all customers and suppliers honestly,
fairly and objectively.
• Select suppliers based on merit, and make
clear to all suppliers that we expect them to
compete fairly and vigorously for our
• Compete vigorously and with integrity.

Entire PepsiCo Code of Conduct may be found by following this LINK.

PepsiCo expects its employees, contractors, agents, customers, and suppliers to promptly report any conduct or situation that she/he believes conflicts with this Code or violates a local, state or federal law to their immediate supervisor, Human Resources, or through the PepsiCo Speak Up line at:

1-866-729-4888 (from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands)

If you feel this situation meets the reporting criteria I urge you to contact PepsiCo and make your voice heard.  If you would like to learn more about the families involved please start HERE.  Thank you for reading.

{ 1 comment }

Merriam-Webster defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”

Last year my wife and I placed a great deal of trust in Lea Kaydus and her organization, Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism.  Lea Kaydus claimed to share a common bond with our family – a child on the Autism Spectrum.  She claimed her desire to train Autism Service Dogs was born when her own daughter wandered away from the family while in a port in Mexico.  She wanted to help other families avoid the same.  The story tugs at a very tender string in a parent’s heart – one with an amplifier for a Special Needs parent.  This story invoked a feeling of a shared fate; a common bond.  She must be here to help.  She knows what we are going through.  We try to look for as much good as we can – we hear and see enough of the negative side.  Yes, we know that you feel sorry for us at times; or even worse, believe that we just don’t know how to parent; after all, if it were your child they would not act like that.  We know; and we believed that Lea Kaydus knew as well.

It was that belief in a shared fate, and a perception of a common underlying value system that made us want to believe in Lea Kaydus and her Animals for Autism program.  We knew that she was not one of the big service dog providers.  She was listed in the Autism Society of America’s service provider database and various other Autism Resource databases.  She claimed to be a non-profit and have strong network of supporters and volunteers that allowed her to keep costs to a minimum.  And she was willing to reach out and lend a hand to help out less fortunate families.  Her organization was donating an Autism Service Dog to a deserving family in honor of World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month.  Many families applied. One was chosen.  It was not us. We did however enter the Animals for Autism program – matched with a beautiful Isabella White Siberian Husky pup we named Bella.  Bella was one of 11 pups in the Spring ’11 Autism Service Animal Training Class.  This “class” had been identified in March, 2011.  That would mean that Lea Kaydus had already identified and secured both funding and resources for each of these pups.  This is how she kept the costs down for the families involved.

Then came the news of the Pepsi Refresh Grant application.

The Animals for Autism Facebook page was all abuzz with the news.  Animals for Autism had applied for a $50,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant.  Many families were recruited to provide votes via Pepsi Power Vote codes.  Some families were voting as many as 50 Power Vote codes daily (sent by Lea Kaydus) – we all had TRUST in the organization and its founder.  We believed we all held a common goal – to make our children’s lives better.

All through the month of May the reminders to vote were there, the pleas to get Power Votes and recruit additional voters.  We were encouraged, entreated to get as much support as possible for this campaign.  Families rallied and support for the program grew remarkably.  And when the end of the voting period came, what began as a dream was now a reality.

During the voting period there was essentially no information coming from Lea Kaydus or anyone else associated with Animals for Autism concerning the status of training for the pups already in training for families.  Yes, there were families with pups already in training. Families making payments as scheduled; hoping that the Pepsi grant might ease a bit of the tension on an already stretched budget.

And with that the honeymoon period ended.  Lea Kaydus had won her $50,000 grant from Pepsi and the families who helped get her to this point were tossed aside.  It might have had something to do with the fact that Lea Kaydus was not ready or able to answer the questions posed by the families.  Of course, it could also be that there was never any intention to carry this program through to completion.  She claimed to have many volunteers as well as a regular staff.  Where are they?

The scenario that is playing out over and over goes something like this.  The lucky recipient family arrives in the Springfield, IL area to complete their last week of training after 12 – 18 months of waiting.  The service dog does not “respond well with the family” and it is determined that this match should not happen.  The family leaves, empty-handed with the promise of a different dog to be delivered upon completion of training.  Repeat for each family that is expecting a service dog from this organization.

Lea Kaydus (Animals for Autism) – you have lied about so many things and yet you want families to TRUST you with the well-being and safety of our children.  You have violated that trust that parents of Special Needs place in each other for what appears to be outright GREED.  You of all people should know how much all those little details meant – especially to an AUTISTIC child.  Our daughter was to the point she had all but memorized the markings of “her” Bella.  And it was nothing more than a SHAM.  May you reap what you have sown.  May I remind you that the “Bait and Switch” tactic is ILLEGAL in every sense of the word.  Please see the GUIDELINES posted here.  I sure hope you aren’t doing the same with the pups you are placing on PuppyFind.com or any other place online.

GlobalGiving.org – you have publicly said what an honor it is to work with Lea Kaydus.  You have been to her new “facility” during your recent “site visit” and yet not a single picture of a highly-trained service dog in training has come.  You “encouraged” the grantee to be in more regular communication with the families going forward and yet she has not.  How about someone just own up to the mess that this has become and admit that a mistake was made.  Her organization DOES NOT legally exist.  She IS NOT capable of the task at hand.  If she had considered attempting to make it right by hiring someone capable of bringing the task to fruition it was handicapped by your insistance that the grant pay for equipment and other tangible goods rather than trainer’s salaries.  You gave her $50,000 and she has improved her kennel and her backyard breeding program has been invigorated.  Yet, she CAN NOT produce the end product that was the spirit of the grant.  The idea was good – the execution SERIOUSLY FLAWED.

Pepsi – Your name will be forever associated with this grantee, her BROKEN process, and ILL-TRAINED service animals.  You TRUSTED GlobalGiving to leverage its grantmaking experience and proprietary workflow systems to validate each Pepsi Refresh grantee, work with each winner on milestones and budgets, and to disburse and monitor the use of funds under the grant.  They FAILED you on this project and in refusing to ACKNOWLEDGE their mistake they not only make themselves look bad, they are DRAGGING your NAME and REPUTATION through the mud.  Wait until the headline reads that service animals trained by PEPSI mauled, maimed or killed the young, disabled children they were to help.

Enough is enough.  Instead of saying

We are listening to the concerns raised and remain open to one-on-one discussion with any of the families who are still involved in the project. – GobalGiving.org response to question posed on Facebook Wall

Do what is right.  Uphold your commitment to Pepsi’s Guiding Principles.

1.  Care for our customers, our consumers and the world we live in. 
We are driven by the intense, competitive spirit of the marketplace, but we direct this spirit toward solutions that benefit both our company and our constituents. Our success depends on a thorough understanding of our customers, consumers and communities. To foster this spirit of generosity, we go the extra mile to show we care.


Help make our voice heard: sign the petition at Change.org asking Pepsi to Stop funding this DANGEROUS service dog placement/Puppy Mill

{ 1 comment }

I sometimes wonder if I should be surprised that this has happened – after all there was a significant amount of public outcry directed at their organization.  Their founder, Lea Kaydus, has been dodging questions from the families she is supposed to be helping, the Better Business Bureau, and even the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.  Initially it was just her program’s web site (http://siberiansnowbabies.com/animals_for_autism) and then the Facebook page was taken down after the segment on KING5 Seattle’s Jesse Jones talking about the concerns we had with the program.  It remained down for a few days and was restored minus a comment here and there.  She insisted that all was well and the whole fiasco was nothing more than a simple misunderstanding.  She was “encouraged” by the grant administrators at Global Giving to have more open communication with the families that were in her program.  There has been no real communication between the families and Ms. Kaydus.  In fact it feels like we are being shoved aside since we have had the audacity to question her credentials and credibility.  She has also “relocated” her facility and left no forwarding address.  What are the families to do?

She and her husband currently continue to list puppies for sale at PuppyFind.com under the name Snowbabies and have been so kind to provide a phone number for contact.

There are also several locations in which she provides email addresses for contact as well and rather than ask you to search for them I will consolidate them here for you.

If her treatment of the families involved has upset you and you would like to voice your concern about what has happened there are people that you may contact.  Apparently, the concerns of the families are not enough to get those with any clout to take notice.  It will take the combined effort of many people.  Let them know.  The following are part of the GlobalGiving.org Grant Team that administer Ms. Kaydus’ grant.

Apparently there has been a bit of rearranging at GlobalGiving.org and those that now administer the Pepsi Refresh Project grants are:
Cooper Breeden: cbreeden@globalgiving.org 
Linda Shaffer Oatley: lshaffer@globalgiving.org

Instead of playing musical grant administrators it might just be easier to direct questions and concerns to the founders of GlobalGiving.org themselves.
Mari Kuraishi: mkuraishi@globalgiving.org 
Dennis Whittle: dwhittle@globalgiving.org 


This week the families lucky enough to be chosen as recipients of FREE autism service dogs by the Illinois-based Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism program received a bit of news that none were expecting.

They did NOT receive answers to any of the questions they had recently posed to the founder/owner of Siberian Snow Babies, Lea Kaydus.  Nor did they receive a response from GlobalGiving.


You don’t know about GlobalGiving.  Let me catch you up to speed.  GlobalGiving is a charity fundraising web site that gives social entrepreneurs and non-profits from anywhere in the world a chance to raise the money that they need to improve their communities.  GlobalGiving is changing the way people give, offering donors a TRANSPARENT, high-impact giving experience.  All projects on GlobalGiving go through a rigorous due diligence review, satisfy IRS guidelines for international grant-making and tax deductibility…they are a registered 501(c)3 and receive a nominal 15% fulfillment fee.  They are the grant administrators for the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project.

Lea Kaydus applied for a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project back in May, 2011.  Now as we have now heard many times over since the grant was dispersed; she applied for the grant as an individual BUT she didn’t sell it like that on any of her social media outlets.  Check out the Facebook post from May, 2011 and tell me who you think will be the recipient of the grant funds.

I thought I was supporting the Animals for Autism program get funding to place 10 FREE Autism Service Animals.  But that is another tangent and I really want to get back to GlobalGiving.

GlobalGiving recently had their representatives begin calling the families who were promised these 10 FREE Autism Service Animals, and in essence issuing to them an ultimatum.  They were told that they must decide if they want to be part of the free service dog program still despite all the unanswered questions (found here: letter in which the united families ask simple questions and very clearly ask for WRITTEN contact).

Did you just get that look too??

 Not only were they expecting an answer from the families but they were expecting an answer without having answered any of the questions posed by the families to them.  An answer by the end of the week demanded by a person who has evaded answering any of the questions posed to her by the families.

Yeah, me too.

So instead of answering those simple questions, admitting that an honest mistake had been made and she was in over her head, and maybe an apology, this is looking to be a knock-down, drag-out fight.  On the one side we have Lea Kaydus of the Animals for Autism program backed and advised by GlobalGiving bankrolled by Pepsi.  And on the other side are the children.  The children that these highly-trained autism service animals were to help.  Ms. Kaydus, GlobalGiving, Pepsi – may I introduce you to your victims in this struggle.  You remember, the children of the families involved.  Perhaps another couple views of this same event might help as well:

Right now, neither Ms. Kaydus nor GlobalGiving are operating in a transparent manner.  Secrecy abounds even down to the fact that one can no longer see the details of what is being voted on during the Pepsi Refresh Project…all one sees is the teaser.  There was a time when you could see the Project outline, the proposed budget, and there was even a blog that accompanied the project.  That has all been removed…apparently that was too transparent.  People might get upset if the idea being funded was not the same idea they had voted on and supported. (CLICK on the picture to enlarge)

CLICK to enlarge

I wonder why they allowed the submission of a project that had an unacceptable line item budget.  It was clearly outlined when the idea was approved as a contender.  I would have thought that if it did not meet funding criteria that it would be either rejected or corrected prior to being put up for voting by the many millions of Pepsi fans out there.

Too many questions left unanswered, strong-arm tactics by GlobalGiving representatives, and children caught in the crossfire while a company refuses to admit that it may have made a mistake.

Back on December 13, 2011 GlobalGiving sent this Tweet out for us to ponder:

I don’t think that the true meaning of this article (The Simple Way to Avoid Social Media Failures by Jeff Stibel, Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.) was understood.  I encourage you to read it and apply it to the situation at hand.  In fact, GlobalGiving, I would encourage you to go back and re-read the article.  I will leave you with the closing paragraph from the article in hopes that it will refresh your memory.

The difference between those who fail and those who succeed in the age of social media is simple. Success is no longer about fancy packaging and carefully controlled messages. When everyone can see what you’re doing, the most essential values are transparency, honesty and credibility. Even with advanced privacy tools — like private lists, tweets and circles — the most foolproof way to stay safe on social media is simply to be who you say you are. Pretending to be something you’re not, or attempting to conceal or manipulate the truth is a surefire way to lose. You win by matching your image with reality, acting with integrity, and sincerely apologizing when you’re wrong.

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Does Anyone Really Read Anymore?

On Friday, January 27 2012, the following open letter was posted to the Facebook page of Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism:

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

In my opinion this request was very clear and very specific.  Global Giving’s response was posted 10 hours later:

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!

Really??  One of the main points was that any response be in written form and you are asking for each individual family to call.  At this point I can’t imagine that you do not know who the families involved are as well as have the contact information for them.  And if Global Giving does not have that information, Ms. Kaydus most certainly does and just chooses not to utilize it.  It would seem that it is the families responsibility to initiate all communication.  I find it hard to believe that in this day and age, with her many volunteers willing to put in thousands of hours of time to complete her new breeding/training facility, that nobody would be willing to take and post pictures of the animals in training.  Instead five (5) months went by with no updates.  Families would like answers and these questions are merely the beginning.  I would recommend that you start there.

Those of you reading this post who have followed our story – please take a moment of your time and let Lea Kaydus, Global Giving and Pepsi know what you think.  The text of the families Facebook post will take you to the Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism Facebook page.  Please like the post if you agree.  Make any comments you feel appropriate and even more importantly – please – Pass this story along to your family and friends or anyone else willing to listen.

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