COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Colorado-based nonprofit organization is trying to help an Ohio family who said they shelled out more than $12,000 for a service dog they never received and other families stuck in the same situation.
Michelle Tillman told NBC4 she was taken advantage of M&R Working Dogs in Grove City.
Better Call Jackson found out the company had more than 10 similar complaints against them with the Attorney General's office and that the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office currently has an open investigation into them. The owners have declared bankruptcy and have told NBC4, “No comment.”
However, hope for those families may not be lost. Better Call Jackson tracked down a nonprofit organization in Colorado that used to endorse M&R Working Dogs but is now trying to make things right.
“Some of these families were just beyond devastated,” Julie Hutchison, head of the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, said. Hutchinson started the foundation after her daughter Chelsea died during a seizure. A service dog might have been able to get help for Chelsea, and how Hutchison works to help families who need a service dog.
The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation now has a list of approved service dog companies they have vetted and trust on their website.
“There are fabulous trainers out there, but sadly there are trainers that will take advantage,” Hutchison said.
The foundation has helped 116 families get service dogs so far and are now vowing to help the about a dozen families who say they were taken advantage of by M & R Working Dogs.
“We have set up a fundraising campaign to try and specifically raise funds to help these families,” Hutchison said.
So far, the foundation has completely funded one Colorado family’s new service dog and is currently working with two other families. Because service dogs can be expensive, they know it will take time but hope to reach them all.
“The joy and safety they can bring to people is unbelievable,” Hutchison said.
To learn more about the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation or to make a donation to help families get service dogs, visit https://chelseahutchisonfoundation.org/.