So, now our story is out. It has been a hard story to tell. We have been taken advantage of by a so called service dog organization. We have been let down by Pepsi and Global Giving. We have lost time, money and energy. We shared our story in the hopes of not only getting our money back, but also preventing this from happening to other families in need. Now the question many people are asking us, “What are you going to do now?” The answer is “We are not giving up.”
When we started this journey, we had no idea the ride we were on. If we had, we would not have gotten on it. It has been a huge stress. We were seeking a service dog to help with the stress, to make life easier for our son. Instead, it has become a nightmare that has taken far too much time, energy, and money away from our family. We are hurt, angry, confused, and downright exhausted. We will need time to heal. However, we serve a God who is bigger than all this and we are trusting Him to see us through. We are not giving up on our original goal of obtaining a service dog for Sam. We can’t. We made him a promise. We promised him a service dog. No, he doesn’t fully understand what that means, but we do, and we promised it to him.
Sam, in his limited vocabulary, carried around a picture of a tiny puppy and when asked who it was, he told them, “my Shadow.” It was heartbreaking to finally put that picture away. Animals for Autism broke their promise. They let him down. Pepsi broke their promise and let him down. It is a lesson that my innocent son is learning all too soon, we can’t trust everyone to keep their word, to live up to their commitments. But doggone it, he is also learning that Mom and Dad do keep their word. We won’t give up.
It may have turned into a lot longer journey than we planned. We start the process over. We have to find an organization we can truly trust. That will require time. There are applications to fill out, funds to raise and waiting lists to sit on, but we will keep going. We originally thought we were going to need to come up with $5000, the cost of a service dog from Animals for Autism. A lot of money to us, but we figured with the help of family, friends, and community, we could do it. People stepped up to the plate. We are forever grateful for the donations that came in on Samuel’s behalf. Much of the donated money is still sitting safely in a special account set aside for service dog expenses. When Pepsi stepped in and was going to cover the rest, we thought it was a miracle. We had planned on using the remaining money to cover our training week in Illinois when we got Shadow. That money will now go towards a down payment for another service dog instead.
We will fight to get the money back that was already paid into Animals for Autism on Samuel’s behalf. I don’t know if we will ever see it again or not (I have my doubts), but we will fight for it all the same. Still, even IF the money is returned to us and in combination with the donations sitting in the bank, we will have a very long way to go. Most service dog organizations charge $12,000-$20,000. That is an insane amount of money to a family like mine. It may take us years to raise, but we won’t give up. We can’t. We made a promise and my husband and I intend to keep it. I looked back over the footage of the story Jessica Noll did for us on WCPO, when we first started this journey. I said in that footage that “He has a gift for not giving up. Things can be kind of challenging. He kind of inspires the rest of us. He doesn’t let anything stop him.”I find that very appropriate at this moment. If Sam can keep trying in the midst of autism and all he goes through, so can we.