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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone know anything about them (positive or negative - if negative, please pm any info)?

I'm interested in knowing more about them before moving forward and expressing an interest in puppy raising (and/or donating) for them. They require a 3 week course for the owners to learn how to handle their service dog - the fee is over $7K. Is this a normal fee range?

Website is at: http://www.heavenscentpaws.com/index.htm

TIA!
 

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I found back on the donor page where Heaven Scent is a 501. Usually that info is upfront and so it took me awhile longer to find it.

As to cost $7,000 may be in line, but that would have a lot to do with how far the dog's training is and what tasks they are taught.

I am waiting word back from a SD contact in MO to see if she has heard of them.
 

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They state:
Quote: We specialize in Diabetic Alert and Seizure Alert/Response Service Dogs.
Which is a whole other topic in inself

and

Quote:The 3 Week Class Program Service Dogs are raised and "trained" by our organization to approximately 12 months. There will be occasions where the dogs might be younger or older, but 12 months is typical. While these dogs have been taught acceptable public behaviors, and well started on scent discrimination training, they will need daily reinforcement of these tasks, skills, and behaviors as they finish maturing into adult dogs
Sounds like the dogs are still in-training when turned over to the new owners.


I do find something I've never seen before on their website --
Page Link

Most of the "training staff" listed are young children!

I see some other points on their website but anyone interested can read these for themselves.


Doing some other research I found a facility in PA that says they put in about $20,000 training into their dogs and charge their clients only $900. and that they will help with fundraising.
 

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Hi Angela,

We have a service dog from Heaven Scent Paws and she is amazing at her job. She alerts to my childs lows before we know. It was a hard training program but isn't everything that is worthwhile. We are thrilled with the obediance and alerting we could not have hoped for more. That is wonderful news that you may be puppy raising for them. Their dogs are very sweet. They have different trainers for different tasks. One of the trainers that we loved happened to be one of her daughters. She is older (college age). She is amazing with the dogs, if we had an issue she always had a fix that worked. I think the pictures on the website are quite old. There are other trainers as well that are not related. The program that we went to was the 3 week program NOT the fully trained program as the wait was way too long for us. Our service dog was 99% obediance trained and in the beginning phase of scent training. We had and still have to keep up with the training. She is now in her game, but it is aot of work and it is not for everyone. You have to be REALLY COMITTED to making this work. I would even say that this is a family decision and that all parties should discuss it before jumping in.

The fee that they ask to be raised includes many things (ex. hotel stay, dog, leashes, collars, toys, beds, grooming combs, etc...and not to forget all the training put into fido.

We do have 24/7 access to the trainers via phone & email. Thou I haven't needed 24/7 service yet. I hope I never will. If I need them I shoot them an email and I usually get a response within 24 hours unless they are getting ready for the next class it might be an extra day before getting an answer, but if it was an emergency I could just call them.

Have fun with the pups :eek:)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
ridinfree,

Thanks for the information.

TJ - I noticed the same thing on the website. I was a bit shocked when I saw that Alice was such a young girl (her daughter?) because I had spoke to her (Alice) on the phone and thought she sounded young - (20ish) but not THAT young. I emailed them and have not received a response back - it's been 5 days. That's a bit weird to me- since I was told on the phone that they would be emailing me information about puppy raising (contract, etc) and that they really need puppy raisers. I've also noticed on a local classified website that they have 8 dogs listed for FREE, most of them are also listed on their "in Training" page. They also have a listing for Obedience Training (shouldn't they be busy enough?).
 

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OK, it seems the red flags going off for some of us were on target.

The AG of ths State of MO is bringing charges against this organization.



************************************************
Missouri Attorney General Website


Attorney General's News Release
June 10, 2008

Nixon lawsuit against St. Elizabeth dog trainer alleges that diabetic alert service dogs were not properly trained

Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Jay Nixon is suing a Miller County business and its owner who took thousands of dollars in payment from consumers to train service dogs, many of which did not perform the service for which they were trained. Nixon says Heaven Scent Paws of St. Elizabeth, and its owner Michelle Reinkemeyer, failed to refund those consumers' payments. The lawsuit filed Monday in Cole County Circuit Court seeks an injunction, consumer restitution, penalties and court costs.

According to Nixon, Heaven Scent Paws (HSP) advertises and offers a three-week training program in Cole County for diabetics to obtain diabetic alert service dogs. Acceptance into the defendants' training program was conditional on the participant raising a minimum of $6,000, which was to be turned over to HSP before the start of the three-week program. Once the $6,000 payment was made, HSP required participants to sign a contract which governs the terms of their participation in the program.

Nixon's office received numerous complaints from consumers, alleging that HSP:

Misrepresented that their trained dogs could alert diabetics for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), when some HSP-trained dogs could not;

Misrepresented that HSP-trained dogs are service dogs, when some of those dogs lack the temperament to act as service dogs;

Required participants to sign contracts (after paying $6,000) which permits HSP to dismiss them from the program at any time for reasons that are vague and subject to unilateral interpretation by HSP, providing no recourse for the dismissed participant to challenge their dismissal or recover their money;

Required participants to sign contracts that permit HSP to remove a dog from possession of the participant at any time at HSP's discretion, with no recourse for the participant to challenge the removal of the dog or recover the money donated to HSP;

Required participants to sign contracts which provide that HSP retains ownership of the dogs provided to participants, even after completion of the program, but absolves HSP of any liability for the dogs, which they selected and trained, once the dogs go home with the participants; and

Falsely claiming to participants who complete the training that they have completed the course of training and testing as set forth by the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), when the IAADP does not have a program for diabetic alert dogs, its standards are not meant to certify assistance dog teams, and that the IAADP has demanded that HSP remove any mention of the organization from its graduation certificates.

Nixon's lawsuit is seeking an injunction to stop the defendants from violating state consumer protection laws. The Attorney General is also requesting that the court order HSP to pay full restitution to all participants who suffered financial loss due to the defendants' unlawful conduct, appropriate civil penalties and all costs in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
 

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I have no idea which ones or if all were in before the AG started investigating, but the last one listed was just days before the statement of intent was published. I'm going to assume that at least the last few are new after the investigation began as these things usually move pretty slowly while the AG's office investigates and prepares. For awhile there was only one person's complaint being spoken of on SD forums and several blogs. So the fact that there were others out there changed some viewpoints of some of the people following the story. Sounds like this is going to be a big story to follow.

One point of concern of some following this is that the dogs are trained by the "family" and in 2006 and 2007 they had placed 48 dogs each year with 50 "in training" for 2008. That is a lot of dogs to work with.

Link to newspaper article
 

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June 10, 2008
Missouri attorney general sues provider of service dogs
By JASON NOBLE
The Kansas City Star

Heaven Scent Paws, based in St. Elizabeth, Mo., provides service dogs and training sessions to teach them to recognize diabetic episodes.

But according to a lawsuit filed Monday by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office, the nonprofit organization has provided unsuitable dogs, failed to adequately train them, and created an unfair payment structure.

“We’ve heard from families across the country who paid thousands of dollars to this Missouri business to have a trained dog to help their diabetic children,” said Scott Holste, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office. “Heaven Scent Paws took advantage of those families.”

An attorney for Heaven Scent Paws, David Bandre, said any problems with dogs trained by the business rested with the families who purchased them.

“There’s a big difference between people who don’t like the results they get as a result of their own actions and being able to place blame on a company,” Bandre said.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to force compliance with consumer- protection laws, plus restitution payments and civil penalties.

It names several families that filed complaints after contracting with Heaven Scent Paws to receive and train a dog that could accompany diabetic children and notify caregivers of high or low blood sugar episodes.

One family reported that its dog, Eggo, had never alerted family members of a possible diabetic episode and has exhibited fear, aggression and “the capacity to bite if cornered.”

According to the suit, an expert determined that Eggo and other dogs were not properly trained in scent detection and not temperamentally fit to be service dogs.

Dogs can be trained to detect hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, although “it takes quite a bit of effort,” said Ed Eames, president of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, an advocacy group for owners of service dogs.

The suit also alleges that Heaven Scent Paws inappropriately cites the association on its documentation to legitimize its services.

To receive a dog, families were required to give Heaven Scent Paws at least $6,000 and complete a three-week training session with their dogs in Jefferson City.

After the money was paid, the suit alleges, Heaven Scent Paws would require families to sign a contract allowing the organization to dismiss them from training without a refund. The contract also stipulated that Heaven Scent Paws retained ownership of dogs for a year after families took possession of them.

Complaints have come from families in several states, including California, Texas and Virginia, Holste said. No Missouri families have lodged complaints.

As of Tuesday, Heaven Scent Paws’ Web site still operated, and showed sold-out training sessions scheduled for July, October and January.

To reach Jason Noble, call 573-634-3565 or send e-mail to [email protected].

Newspaper Link
 

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A website set up by a 12 year old about his brother with info about fundraising for a SD from Heaven Scent Paws. This family is one that made a complaint to the MO Attorney General.

Link to site


And on the other side is this press release from yesterday:

Press Release
06/11/08

Heaven Scent Paws, Inc. vehemently denies the allegations of the Missouri Attorney General's Office, and is committed to fighting the harmful and false allegations that have been made against us.

The claims that have led to the lawsuit come from the complaints of a few unreasonable and disgruntled families, and it is unfortunate that the many satisfied HSP partners are overlooked by the Attorney General when evaluating these baseless complaints.

We will continue to provide service to those in need of help with their diabetic children and families, and are confident that the legal system will work for us and exonerate Heaven Scent Paws from these baseless charges.
 

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Here's a story about the Rinkel family (the family whose son fund-raised with the Lemonade Stand) who are suing Heaven Scent Paws -

http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=93467&catid=188

Quote:Family says service dog didn't serve
by: TaRhonda Thomas

AURORA – When 10-year-old Jason Rinkel met his service dog, Jedi, he thought it was a dream come true. But then he says the dog bit him.

"That was the final straw," said Jason's mom Marisa.

The family had been saving for months to purchase the dog. Jason's brother Mark set up a lemonade stand that made international headlines and helped raise $17,000 to purchase the dog from "Heaven Scent Paws," a business based in St. Elizabeth, Missouri.

The business requires purchasers to pay a minimum of $6,000 to be connected with a service dog.

"I didn't have the expertise to find a dog that had this gift," said Marisa. "I let them choose a dog for us, hoping they'd choose one who knew how (to detect low blood sugar levels)."

That skill is valuable because the dog can awake a person who's asleep when their blood sugar levels drop. In Jason's case, the dog could also alert his parents.

In home video dated Feb. 28, Jedi sits by the couch as Jason's mom checks his blood sugar level, showing that it's unusually low. The dog did nothing.

Citing complaints from other customers of Heaven Scent Paws, the Missouri Attorney General's office has filed charges against the business alleging that it "took thousands of dollars in payment from consumers to train service dogs, many of whom did not perform."

A spokesperson for the attorney general's office adds that dogs like Jedi lacked the temperament to become service dogs.

"We're asking the court to issue restitutions to the consumers who were harmed by this misrepresentation," said spokesperson Scott Holste.

The Rinkels have since returned Jedi.

A family in Washington heard about their ordeal and gave them another service dog, which the Rinkels are in the process of training with the help of a professional trainer.

An attorney for Heaven Scent Paws and its owner Michelle Reinkemeyer, who is also being sued, denied the allegations.

"The contract informs them that when the dog comes home… the dog will not be fully trained," said Dave Bandre. "If these folks want to say, 'Well, we didn't know that,' they signed a contract that says it."

Bandre adds that he doesn't think the families are entitled to a refund.

The Rinkels, however, continue to fight for one.

"My parents are always telling me to turn off the lights and save electricity," said Mark Rinkel. "I feel like I flushed $17,000 down the toilet."
 

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Quote:
The contract informs them that when the dog comes home… the dog will not be fully trained," said Dave Bandre. "If these folks want to say, 'Well, we didn't know that,' they signed a contract that says it."
I'm a serious dog person, and I don't know what the heck "not fully trained" means. You have to be pretty sophisticated to be able to ask the right questions to get a specific answer. Does "not fully trained" mean the dog alerts and would easily pass CGC but doesn't walk in a perfect heel and would likely be anxious on an aircraft? Or does "not fully trained" mean the dog doesn't alert consistently and couldn't pass a CGC, much less a public access test?

Some of us here could get to that answer (assuming we were being given truthful answers), but others even here on this forum wouldn't know that these lines of distinction are so incredibly important.

Part of training a service dog, to me, is training the potential handler on what will be expected after the hand-off.

I was skeptical because I know how much work my self-trained alert dog has required (and how much it has cost me in time, training classes, and private lessons). But all I know is my experience. I am no expert on "professionally" trained dogs, except those I know personally and the CCI trainers I know.

This is truly unfortunate. Those poor families.
 

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For people really interested in this topic -- read for yourself

Circuit Court of Cole County, MO
Filed June 9, 2008

23 pages

<span style="color: #FF0000">Attorney General Nixon vrs. Heaven Scent Paws and Michelle Reinkemeyer</span>

Legal Document Link
 

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What an eye opener.

Contracts not given to people until after $6,000. deposit made

Individual could lose their dog and all money given to date because:
* they were more than 15 min. late to a class
* were disrespecful
* people in class talking amongst themselves


Charges include:
* Incorrect & misleading info given on the website
* Trainers include young teens who are working with dogs meant for disabled toddlers and young children
* Info given to participants (and printed on certificates) show that this organization is approved by IAADP -- which is incorrect.
* Dogs are not alerting at all or very infrequently (there is a tape of one such dog stretched and sleeping while handler is having multiple seizures)
* Dogs are being evaluated by professional trainers, vets, etc. and the reports coming back that not only do they not alert but that their temperaments are not suitable for working as a SD.

Heaven Scent Paws is not registered with the State of MO as a charitable organization nor have the legal standing to solicit for funds.

Donations are possibly being used for personal use.

Numerous Unfair Practices violations
 

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Sniffing Up A Training Scam
ST. ELIZABETH - A dog-training scam in Miller County, Missouri is upsetting people across the country.

Heaven Scent Paws sold dogs for $6,000 allegedly trained to sense the sugar level in people with diabetes.

"This is a a dog that will alert them if the person has diabetes, experiences low blood sugar or high blood sugar. These families are finding out that's not the case," said Attorney General spokesman Scott Holste.

Families claim their dogs were never trained properly.

"We want to make sure customers get restitution, we also want to make sure any kind of improper and decepetive activity is stopped," said Holste.

Attorney General Jay Nixon stepped in, suing the business. On the other hand, lawyer David Bandre believes the case should be dropped, and the families shouldn't get their money back. He says training a dog doesn't guarantee it'll become a perfect dog. Bandre has represented the farm since its origin, but says he has never visited the site.

"Different dogs alert in different ways," said Bandre. "That's like saying Ford Motor Company ought to be liable for every accident caused by their vehicle, even if you are going 160 miles on gravel."

Settling out of court is not an option for Bandre, and dog owners are running out of options to get their money back.

"They're not getting what they paid for and they are not getting refunded," said Holste.

If that's the case, the dog trainer might be in the dog house.

Reported by: Michael Brannen
Edited by: Jena Pike

Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 5:38 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 10:17 PM

KOMU News

Quote:Bandre has represented the farm since its origin, but says he has never visited the site.
 

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Originally Posted By: ILGHAUSIndividual could lose their dog and all money given to date because:
* they were more than 15 min. late to a class
* were disrespecful
* people in class talking amongst themselves
And then, presumably, they'd sell the dog to someone else for $6000.
 
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