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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

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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.

 

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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
business.
• 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.

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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

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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.
siberiansnowbabies@yahoo.com
illinoisanimalsforautism@yahoo.com
autismserviceanimals@yahoo.com

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.
dcallejon@globalgiving.org
kellis@globalgiving.org

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 

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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.

Oh.

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.

logo for Global Giving        

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How has the New Year treated YOU?

Today’s post is rather simple and will be somewhat short.

With the state of the global economy such as it is…with the glaring harshness of unemployment here in the United States.  With all that is going on socially and our access to near-instant information…how has this year been to you thus far?

I really would like to know.  Has it been good, bad or just so-so?  Just take a moment and post a comment below.  Would love to hear from you.

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It must be quite the honor for Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism Program to have one of the Grant Administrators from Global Giving take time out of her schedule to fly all the way from Washington, DC to visit and “volunteer” at the new training “facility.”

Picture of Ms. Ellis from Global Giving websiteI hope that everyone is willing to give a welcome hand to Ms. K.C. Ellis of Global Giving.  KC facilitates successful grant administration for the Pepsi Refresh Project. She is bilingual in French and English, and uses her language skills to work with grantees throughout the United States and Canada. Before coming to GlobalGiving, KC worked as a concierge for an international travel group, coordinated programs and marketing at the James River Green Building Council, and waited tables at a Cuban restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. She attended college at l’Université Jean-Monnet de Saint-Etienne and earned her Bachelor of Arts in both International Studies with a Focus on the Arts and French Language from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Please feel free to visit the rest of the Global Giving team and let them know what a fantastic job they are doing.

I am hopeful that she has managed to pick up a little more information on how a service dog training program (and especially one for autistic children) should be run, and administered.  There has been a lot of concern raised by several of the families who were lucky enough to be chosen by Siberian Snow Babies to be part of their Pepsi Pups Animals for Autism program.  Initially they were told that the issues would just need to be worked out between them and the program’s founder, Lea Kaydus.  Later on, Global Giving offered to do a mediated phone call.  I wonder whom in the Global Giving organization has had experience working with service animals.  Then again, some of the concerns are really much more basic than that.  After all, it is very easy to give families the wrong tax information.  It is very easy to represent your organization as a non-profit yet give no real way for those who have donated to your “organization” and way to take this deduction.  Ms. Kaydus claims on her Facebook page for Animals for Autism

“However, the IRS allows Form 1023 to remain unfiled as long as an organization has gross receipts in each taxable year of not more than $5,000. Since Animals for Autism’s receipts are far less than $5,000, the NFP can accept contributions without filing until the end of the grant period. It is allowable to file the form within 27 months after the end of the month in which you were legally formed.”  

Now I must ask, how is this possible since I know that my family has paid you $2250 and I know that several other families have also paid money to you – and yes, those are not donations, they are in fact payments.  A donation is not usually accompanied by a payment plan which is what I believe we were all placed on to make owning a service dog a closer reality.  And Ms. Kaydus, that does state gross receipts and not net receipts.  Oh, that’s right, you had everyone send the money to your husband through his (your) normal puppy selling account.  Was that to keep your “organization’s” gross receipts down?  I wonder who else has noticed by now?

Ms. Ellis, since Ms. Kaydus seems to have such difficulty keeping the families in her training program apprised of the current training status of their service animals I hope that you will be able to assist.  She has not yet identified a reliable way of determining which dog belongs to which family, although we had thought that a colored collar with maybe a dog tag with a name on it might be a start and would easily allow for visual identification.  Must be difficult if the trainers must constantly pull out the microchip scanner to ensure that the proper dog is receiving the proper training.  Which also brings to mind…what are the animals being trained to do.  Ms. Kaydus had mentioned constant communication between trainers and family to ensure that the proper tasks were being identified and yet I don’t believe the majority of the families have been contacted.  It seems as if maybe Ms. Kaydus has taken on more than she can really handle.  Who would really know besides possibly another dog trainer.  It might be worth enlisting some help from the PepsiCo Puppy Partnership (P3).  Their trainer(s) seem to have done some pretty awesome work just based off of their Facebook page.  P3 is a partnership between PepsiCo and Guiding Eyes for the Blind in which we support employee volunteerism by training and developing service dogs inside the workplace.  Wow, PepsiCo has a program to train and develop service dogs inside the workplace…what an amazing concept.

Click on the picture to go to the rest of the album

Sorry, I got lost on a tangent.  Once again, please say hello to Ms. Ellis and the rest of the team at Global Giving.  Let them know you appreciate all that they are doing to help Siberian Snow Babies and their Animals for Autism Program.  Maybe after this visit is complete, and Ms. Ellis has finished her “volunteering” the families involved might be able to get a few answers.

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Really?? You Took Care of What??

Today I received some very interesting news.  It came in quite a roundabout way as well.  As some of you know it has been quite a rough go for us with Siberian Snow Babies and their Animals for Autism program.  We began to have severe misgivings with their organization and overall credibility.

We had asked for assistance, information, and explanations but received only excuses from the founder, Lea Kaydus.  After much deliberation we decided that this program was not what it had initially appeared to be and withdrew from the program and requested a refund of all monies we had paid in.  We were informed by Ms. Kaydus that a refund was impossible as Bella had been too highly trained in clothing removal assistance and could not possibly be used as a service animal for another family.  For this reason Bella could only be placed in a pet home.  We filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the Office of the Attorney General, State of Illinois and voiced our concerns to Global Giving (the Pepsi Refresh Program administrators) and Pepsi.  Since Ms. Kaydus refused to refund our money, we proceeded to ask PayPal for their help in recovering our funds.  We were told that we were outside the 45 day dispute window and had no recourse through PayPal.  We then took the next step and initiated a chargeback request with each of the banks we had used to in our PayPal payments to Ms. Kaydus.  (I should mention that all payments do not go to Animals for Autism or Lea Kaydus instead they are made to George Kaydus at the email address blueribbonwins@yahoo.com.  I wonder if this is how Animals for Autism keeps their income down – by not reporting it all.

Ms. Kaydus was not at all agreeable to the idea of returning any funds to us or any of the people who donated on our behalf.  So naturally, she contested our dispute.  We were given a chance to counter the evidence she provided and then final determination would rest with the bank.  After many months, we received notice from one of the banks that we were incorrectly (fraudulently) charged and our account was credited for the amount disputed, and the investigation closed.  We are still awaiting the outcome from the other bank and hold onto a small bit of hope that PayPal might reconsider their stance.  It is not likely though.

So back to the news from today – the grant administrators from Global Giving are headed out to Glenarm, IL to “volunteer” with Animals for Autism.

Today from Facebook:

As we continue traning and providing for the puppies who will become service animals, we’re especially looking forward to meeting the grant administrators! They’ve offered to add to the thousands of volunteer hours put in on behalf of the recipient families. =)
· 4 hours ago · 
I wish that the grant administrators had shown that same level of concern when I brought my concerns.  The ones so easily brushed aside because I was just a troublemaker.  I hope they are able to get something that resembles the truth from you.  Not that they know anything about dog training as they told one family that they could just as easily train a service dog themselves.  
I no longer wonder how a service dog trained by Siberian Snow Babies or Animals for Autism or any of their trainers will do in my house around my disabled daughter.  Lea Kaydus promised families highly-trained autism service dogs.  Something she can no longer deliver to my family.
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