In the last few weeks, I have been asked several times…”whatever happened with the whole Animals for Autism/Pepsi Pup mess?” (If you are wondering what I am talking about, you can go back to my previous posts on the Pepsi Pup mess).
Here we are June, a full year since the families became involved. Ten children had been promised “free” autism service dogs from Animals for Autism through a Pepsi Refresh Everything Project. It was quite a publicity stunt. Pepsi even had the children’s names listed on their site along with pictures of adorable little puppies (what a shame those puppies’ pictures were several years old). The founder of the so called organization was given $50,000 for the project and service dogs were to be ready this past spring. Some of the families had already paid money for these so called “free” service dogs, but that is another story.
Well, guess what? There are no service dogs. To my knowledge, none of the families have been able to make any contact with Animals for Autism. (I cannot confirm all of them, but I have heard from most). Pepsi seems to have washed their hands of it entirely and Global Giving (the organization overseeing the grant) seems to have nothing to say. I sent them an email last month and they never bothered to respond. It seems the individuals who had been previously assigned this project have moved onto other things. It seems unclear who is now actually over this project (if anyone). The organization that had spent so much time reassuring the families that everything was fine and to just sit quiet and wait, now seems to have nothing to say. Keep in mind this is the same organization that said they were on the grounds of the “facility” last January and saw 20 dogs on site and saw training in progress. Now they sit quiet hoping this all goes away.
Last August, the case was brought to the attention of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office by one of the families. In November, several more complaints came in from some of the other families involved. Yet, none of the money has been returned, nor any charges brought against the founder.
So, to answer the question as to what happened to the Pepsi Pup Mess? NOTHING. No apologies, no explanations, no contact…nothing. Sometimes the bad guys win….momentarily.
On a much more positive note, three of the families will be receiving service dogs beginning in October from 4 Paws for Ability. They are the good guys who stepped in to clean up the mess. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Pepsi and Global Giving had chosen to have used that $50,000 to fund a real organization like 4 Paws for Ability? Maybe someday they will figure out where they went wrong.