Eyewitness News Investigates: Pawsitive Service Dogs

Eyewitness News Investigates: Pawsitive Service Dogs

Two local families claim a Northern California non-profit group didn't deliver on its promise to provide service dogs for their autistic children. CBS47's Zara Arboleda investigates.
    Two Central Valley families say a non-profit group that was supposed to provide them with service dogs for their autistic children didn't deliver what was promised.
     Darian Gonzalez is four years old and has severe, high-functioning autism.
     His vocabulary is limited and he wanders, which is why his family contacted a northern california company called "Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions".
     It trains dogs to tether to kids, so they can't run off, to scent-track, if they get lost and to help calm them down.
     On June 2nd, the Gonzales family paid the $1,250 deposit and $25 application fee with money friends, family and neighbors in Fresno donated. But, weeks later, Pawsitive Solutions shut down. When Darian's dad, Nate, called, he was told records are missing from the offices and that the owner is trying to track them down.
     The Freeman family of Clovis has had problems communicating with Pawsitive Solutions, too.
     In June, they received "Hazel", after $12,500 to the agency. She was to help with their autistic daughter, Ellory. But her parents could see the dog was definitely not ready.
     Ellory's dad, Nathan, says, "She still pulls on the leash quite a bit. Sometimes, she's difficult to handle when we're at the store or out in public. She certainly doesn't bond with our daughter as she should. She doesn't have an innate ability to stay close to our daughter or protect her."
     There are other disgruntled families. Four have filed suit against the company. The founder of Pawsitive Solutions is Carmel Mooney, an author and radio talk show host in the Sacramento area. Her attorney tells Eyewitness News: "She is absolutely devastated. This has brought her to tears and as a mother of a child with special needs, this is the last thing that she has wanted to see. She is working hand in hand with the state attorney general's office to properly resolve all families' complaints."
     Meantime, the Gonzalez's have contacted a service dog trainer in Oakhurst. It will take about a year for them to get a dog for Darian.
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