Taking a puppy away from an autistic girl

Feb 20, 2012, 4:24 PM | Updated: Feb 21, 2012, 11:02 am

Faith Creighton of Silverdale, Washington has a lot to deal with.

Faith The eight-year-old girl has mild Cerebral Palsy, Autism, multiple life-threatening allergies, left ventricle hardening of her heart, reduced kidney function, and Familial Mediterranean Fever Syndrome.

Faith tires easily and has difficulty navigating uneven terrain and stairs. She also gets unnerved by anything that’s out of her routine, so it’s challenging for her to make transitions from one activity to the next.

Faith’s mom and dad thought a service dog would help and her in several ways.

A dog could give her stability while trying to move around and retrieve a dropped item. The animal could provide emotional support by interrupting self-harming behavior and alerting others of wandering.

Companionship and a constant calming presence would be the greatest benefits of all. So, one year ago the Creightons started searching for a dog for Faith.

They came across the Animals for Autism program run by Siberian Snow Babies based in Illinois. The fees required by this organization were significantly less than that of many of the other larger national service dog training organizations out there.

“This seemed to be the break we needed,” says James Creighton, Faith’s father. “Their web site made a point that there would be continuous contact throughout the training process, with trainers calling regularly to learn more about the specific needs of the recipient. They claimed to work almost exclusively with Siberian Huskies from AKC championship bloodlines that were donated from contacts they had made during their show dog days.”

The Creighton’s submitted an application on April 11, 2011 and were “very happy to hear” they were accepted into the program.”

“We received our initial training plan and our payment,” says Creighton, “We made our first payment of $750 according to their payment schedule on April 19, 2011.”

The Creighton’s continued their payments, and were told to expect the typical cost of this kind of service animal adoption would run around $15,000. They asked the Animals for Autism program to send pictures and video of the service dog in training, so they could use that as part of a personal fundraiser to raise money for Faith’s dog. The organization told the family their computer was hit by a virus, and as a result they would not be able to send photos.

“Our requests for more detailed updates on training status and pictures were met with ‘we are too busy working on the Pepsi grant at the moment, maybe later,'” Creighton says.

Bella By mid-July of last year, they finally received some high-resolution photos of their puppy “Bella.”

Creighton, who is a U.S. Navy electronics technician chief based at Bangor, noticed something wasn’t right. The electronic imprint on all three photos showed that they were taken in May of 2007. They were told the puppy was born in 2011 and was about six months old.

He contacted Lea Kaydus about the possibility of a visit to see the new facility they are constructing and meet “our” service dog in training. We were informed that our visit might be possible after the new facility is completed but not before.

His heart sank. That was one red flag too many.

He checked with the Illinois Secretary of State web site to verify the business. They were not listed.

He called the IRS to check the tax ID number. It did not belong to Animals for Autism or Siberian Snow Babies. Neither organization had applied for non-profit status, and their websites have since been taken down.

Although Animals for Autism claimed 25 years of experience in training service dogs, other parents who started to ask about the animals could only find one family in possession of a trained dog.

The Creightons had made $2,250 in payments already. Trying to cut their losses, they requested a refund. The Animals for Autism owner, Lea Kaydus, told them any refund would be up to Pepsi because their grant sponsored the program.

Creighton has done everything to try to track down his money, and more importantly, the service animal he hoped would help his daughter.

He filed a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Illinois, and with their local Better Business Bureau. Lea Kaydus has been served with a subpoena to appear and provide information, and has not returned my calls for information on this case.

GlobalGiving.org administers a $50,000 grant Kaydus received to train service animals. They admit there have been “communications problems” but they do not believe the program she is running is a “scam.”

“I do believe that they are out to defraud those who can least afford it,” Creighton says.

By Linda Thomas

Photos courtesy James Creighton

The News Chick Blog

The wife of Seattle attorney Danford Grant moved his car away from one of the alleged crime scenes ...
No Author

Equal justice for Seattle lawyer accused of several rapes?

Has accused serial rapist Danford Grant gotten preferential treatment because both he and his wife are Seattle attorneys?
10 years ago
The Seattle-based I Can Has Cheezburger network now includes 60 humor sites. Many of their 90 emplo...
No Author

Seattle humor network, built with funny cat pictures, becomes a reality TV show

A small Internet empire with a funny name has billions of page views on its network of 60 humor websites based in Seattle. Now, I Can Has Cheezburger has a reality TV show too.
10 years ago
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent a combined $30.33 every second this election cycle. Wa...
No Author

Democracy and dollar signs – 2012 campaign spending

Washington initiative campaigns spent $34 million trying to win your vote, while President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent a combined $30.33 every second this election cycle.
10 years ago
Chef Tom Douglas says Seattle’s restaurants are ‘a little homemade’ compared with...
No Author

Chef Tom Douglas says ‘Seattle is a funny restaurant town’

Chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas, with 13 Seattle restaurants and more on the way, says Seattle is a "funny restaurant town."
10 years ago
Investigation continues into why a commander of the Bremerton-based Stennis carrier group was remov...
No Author

New ‘crazy’ conspiracy theory on Stennis Rear Admiral

The Pentagon shoots down theories about why the commander of the USS Stennis Carrier Group was removed from duty and sent back to the homeport in Bremerton.
10 years ago
Seattle photographer Paul Souders captures an adult polar bear up close in Hudson Bay in Churchill,...
No Author

Seattle photographer comes face to face with a polar bear

A wildlife photographer, who lives in Ballard, has taken thousands of stunning shots. None put him on "a razor's edge" more than a series of photos swimming with a polar bear.
10 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Taking a puppy away from an autistic girl