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Service Dog Scam Revisited: Lea Kaydus Still Silent

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.

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 ·

GlobalGiving

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

GlobalGiving

We can only speak for ourselves. As the grant administrator, GlobalGiving is trying to balance our commitment to transparency with the grantee’s right to privacy. We fully appreciate that the lack of public information is very frustrating for the families. We can say, based on our contact and site visit, that she is in compliance with the terms of her grant agreement and is scheduled to deliver the dogs to the requesting families starting in Spring 2012. As noted in our blog post, we stand firm in our commitment to do everything we can to support the grantee to help bring this project to fruition. We have also encouraged the grantee to be in more regular communication with the families going forward, to which she has agreed.
16 hours ago · 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.

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