Looking for an autism service dog and wondering how a person can get scammed? Learn from a pro. Let me tell you exactly what to do to get yourself in a mess! (With a touch of sarcasm… Perhaps you could use this as a what NOT to do!)
1) Look for the cheaper option. Sure there are fantastic organizations out there, but they are so expensive… most cost between $15,000-$20,000. Ignore the fact that it takes a lot of time (thousands of hours actually) and energy to train a proper service dog. Over look the possibility that a legitimate organization will offer you lots of support and help in fundraising, perhaps even lists of places to apply for grants or other options such as Medicaid. Determine in your mind that you will never be able to fund such an expensive dog and look instead for someone cheaper. After all, you bargain shop for everything else so why not a service dog? Yeah, that is smart.
2)Don’t bother calling the IRS to confirm if the organization is indeed non profit and don’t check on the internet even though there is a website that lists non profit organizations and it only takes a minute to find out. Instead, just take the person’s word for it. It says it right on the website and on facebook that they are non profit, and we all know they can’t legally say they are if they aren’t ….. right?
3)Don’t ask for references to talk to. If they have people giving testimonials on the website, assume it is true and not copied from somewhere else. Why would they copy it from another site? Also assume that the individuals who say they got dogs from them actually received SERVICE dogs and not just PET dogs….. this is a service dog organization after all. Why would they have people talk aobut getting their pets from them? It is not some breeding business.
4)Take their word for it when they say how much experience they have. Those credentials look so impressive why would they make it up? You don’t need any proof, you don’t need names of the trainers or volunteers that work with them and certainly you do not need to know about their board members. They have no reason to make something like that up. Uh-huh.
5)When you tell the things you would like the dog trained for and they say they can do that…. Believe them. Never mind the fact that every organization is different and specializes in different things. If they say they can train the dog for anything and everything…. They can! They are such great trainers you can have it all.
6)Ignore that gut feeling that thinks the breed choice might be a little odd. If they assure you that the breed is really irrelevant if it is well bred and well trained, then that is good enough. Even though you keep asking questions about it, they have a comeback for every concern. They are the experts in this, so of course they know what they are talking about.
7)Let them rush you into a decision. If you don’t make a decision this week and put down your first payment, the dogs will all be spoken for and there is no telling how long you will have to wait. There are a lot of other families interested and they will probably all be wanting a dog and there is just not enough to go around. They only have your best interest since they know how much your child needs a service dog and they really don’t want him to have to wait…. Yes, hurry up, you don’t want to miss this chance.
8)Go ahead and make that first payment without a contract. They will send you one later. You can work out all the details of training later. They are very busy right now, but things will settle soon and then you can get all those things worked out. After all, the important thing is to get that payment in so that your child can be matched with an available dog that is ready to start specific training for your child…. Even though they don’t yet know what his needs are. Oh yeah, and you better pay through paypal because sending a check will only delay the process and if another family gets their payment there first, well there just won’t be anything they can do to help you.
9)Once you have made your first payment, and they give you a picture, don’t worry if it is just a little tiny newborn picture and they don’t have anything newer, they will send you a new picture soon, when things settle down and they give you that contract and training specifics….. just keep making payments anyhow…. It is not like they will move and not leave a forwarding address, stop answering your calls and emails, take down the website, and still not have given you pictures or updates or a contract or training specifics 9 months later. They really care about you and your child….
10)After all, if this is a scam…. You would have plenty of legal protection. I am sure you could get your money back and put a stop to all this. Shoot you could probably even get those big corporations that gave grant money to the organization to help…. They would never fund a scam and if they did, they would certainly do the right thing to fix it. YUP…… its all good.