The Attorney General of Illinois, Lisa Madigan, has filed a lawsuit against a woman who was supposedly running a charity that matched service dogs with children who had autism. It wasn’t really a charity. Instead, it was a scam that cost some families thousands of dollars.
Service dogs can be incredibly helpful. When you hear the phrase “service dog” you might think of a person who is blind, and who is using a guide dog to help him or her navigate safely across streets or through a city. Service dogs are also used to help children and adults who have peanut allergies, seizures, anxiety disorders, or an autism spectrum disorder.
The cost of getting a service dog for a person who needs one can be more expensive than many families can afford. Earlier this year, a family held a very successful fundraiser so a boy named Lucas could get the guide dog he needed.
Families who are hoping to get a service dog for their child should beware of a “charity” called Animals for Autism. It isn’t a charity at all! Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit against a woman named Lea Kaydus, who was running the Animals for Autism scam. The lawsuit was filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan said:
“Animals for Autism turned out to be a heartless scam. The organization targeted parents of children with autism who hoped that adopting a service dog would help their child. But instead of receiving a trained dog to assist their child, these families lost thousands of dollars and worse, had their hopes for their child dashed.”
Lea Kaydus (allegedly) collected at least $5,190 from families during this scam. Animals for Autism advertised that it would train Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Klee Kai puppies for between $3,000 and $8,000 dollars.
Parents were told that their child would be matched with a trained dog, and that they would be first introduced through teleconferences and then by frequent updates until the dogs completed the training. One family said they received a photo of a puppy that was taken in 2007. Others got photos of puppies that were not even in the Animals for Autism program.
Lea Kaydus has agreed to a settlement. The terms of the settlement require her to give the affected families restitution, and also require her to comply with Illinois’ charitable and consumer fraud laws.
Image by Brian Turner on Flickr