More on EDF

Expanding a bit on the news I posted a few days ago about the Eye Dog Foundation’s puppy raisers winning in court, I finally have had some time to go through the HUGE email that I was sent. First, let me reitterate that the summary judgment is still pending. So these are preliminary findings as the judge still has yet to rule on the lawsuit. And all of this only pertains to the seven dogs that were not returned to the school.

The findings begin with the”first right of refusal” agreement the puppy raisers were given — meaning that if their dog was released from guide dog training they were given the option to take back their dog before any other possibility. The judge found that EDF did not follow through on this agreement. (Dogs were released to the police, for instance, rather than returned to their puppy raisers.)

Much information was presented about the “ideal age” a dog in training should be. And based on testimony from EDF staff, the judge concluded that dogs over the age of three are “too old to be trained.” All the dogs that were part of this lawsuit are presently over the age of three. One is four.

It was noted that EDF has not followed through with their mandatory number of classes (two per month) and in providing the proper staff to care for and handle the dogs. The school was closed for at least four months and staff were not on hand to carry out “the necessary training.” The puppy raisers voiced much concern over the new staff due to the lessened amount of training. The court concludes “that EDF has breached its contract with the volunteers by failing to maintain a continuing program of training and support.”

There’s a whole section on the specifics of a good faith agreement, which lists the following conditions that EDF should meet:

  • Remain functioning (i.e., not close for four months)
  • Make dogs the number one priority
  • Acknowledge dogs which are obviously unacceptable as guide dogs due to health or temperament or obedience
  • Not kennel dogs unnecessarily
  • Place dogs with the blind (i.e., more than a single one in the last several years)
  • Provide trainers with experience and competency and additional staff
  • Taking dogs back from the trainers at the optimum age (12 to 18 months) and placing them with the blind

And concludes with the following statement: “The Court finds that EDF has failed in the above-stated obligations and has thus violated its implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” Furthermore, “the Court finds that the volunteers have fulfilled their obligations, express and implied. The only claimed violation of the agreements is not to have returned the dogs upon demand, but this is justified by the findings and conclusions of this Court.”

With regards to those dogs that were returned to the school — and not part of these findings — puppy raisers are still fighting with EDF. The agreement, as I understand it, that the puppy raisers had when they returned their dogs was that they would be returned to them if they were not placed as guide dogs within six months. None of the puppy raisers have had their dogs returned and some of the dogs have been released to other programs, e.g. the sheriff’s department. Without the consent of the puppy raiser. I’ll update with further information on that as I find out more.

In conclusion, the pièce de résistance, for various reasons Gwen Brown’s own lawyer wants to quit. Take from that what you will.

April 3, 2010

I woke up to a very long email from an EDF puppy raiser this morning, along with a worsening migraine. But headache or no, I actually have an update on the situation at EDF. The judge’s summary judgment is still pending, but he has ruled in favor of the puppy raisers. So those seven who have not yet returned their dogs to EDF are completely within their rights to keep their dogs out of the school. There’s still the issue of the dogs being “warehoused” at the school, but there’s a ton more information in the email I was sent so when I have a bit more time (and feel better) I’ll post more details.

Still, congratulations to the volunteer puppy raisers of EDF because this is a BIG win for them.

In completely unrelated news, second batch of ducky cupcakes went quite smoothly. And that first batch was a very big hit at work yesterday. The consensus is that they were adorable and yummy, so I’m quite pleased. Batch #2 is coming with me to Dad’s for Easter dinner. Yara and I are headed out there “sometime” today and from the sounds of it my father has a literal feast in the workings. Also, I get to see Dolly.

Replies, Reactions and Warm Fuzzies

Previously at Gentle Wit there has been an abundance of crankiness and angst about the ongoing situation at EDF. Mostly this is attributed to the fact that all attempts at helping and rectifying the problems have been ignored. Of course, there has also been the occasional flame or accusation of harassment. Personally, I’m tired of sounding so “down in the dumps” especially since I’m in a terribly shiny mood thanks to some rather excellent grad school news – which I will share another time.

So, for our purposes today, I’d like to share some of the more positive responses I’ve received, in specific regards to the letter I wrote to EDF:

“For so long we have written letters, talked to officials, and just felt like we were batting our heads against the wall . . . To have someone who understands what that specially raised and trained dog brings to their lives, is uplifting and will keep us battling on to get this situation corrected. My gratitude to you is enormous . . . You are a ray of sunshine for us and I say thank you and praise you for helping to make a difference . . . Our efforts to see this through should send a message to every blind guide dog candidate; we are in this for you!!!

“Your letter was awesome! You nailed every point and drove it home with force. Thank you for taking the time and penning your perspective and worries from someone who knows better than all of us.”

Honestly, I don’t have much of a reply. I really didn’t get involved in this expecting to be thanked. (Of course I didn’t expect to be accused of harassing anyone either!) I am touched that by doing what really is so very little in such a huge fight can generate such a wealth of enthusiasm and I’m pleased to have been able to contribute. And, certainly I’ll do my utmost to continue doing so and spread the word about EDF.

Uh-Oh!

Today I was called into Mike’s office and informed that Gwen Brown, EDF’s executive director, had contacted State Ed regarding the letter I had sent her about EDF stating that I am harassing her!

My boss was none too pleased. He advised me to “leave her alone” and now has the task of contacting her himself to assure her that SED has nothing whatsoever to do with any of this and that I’m not speaking on behalf of them. Which, of course I’m not doing; I’m not speaking on behalf of anyone.

I don’t even know. It’s equal parts horrifying and amusing. Frankly, I find this an incredibly odd reaction to a mere letter. Not sure what I will do, if anything. But I promise you this, I’m still going to do my part to help!

Fighting the Good Fight

Firstly, if you haven’t yet read this post about the situation at EDF, stop right here and do just that. Then start spreading the link far and wide!

Probably this is a telling facet of my personality that I am constantly faced with people who manage to let me down; yet I am always surprised when it happens. In the last week since I was first contacted by the EDF volunteer puppy raiser I have had exactly this happen more times than I can count via agencies and organizations that one would think are supposed to be monitoring and/or fixing things.

GDUI was the first to fall below my expectations — and let it be known that I will be very upfront about exactly this any time GDUI is brought up in my presence. I remain furious at, and ashamed of, the entire leadership of GDUI for being so unwilling to even attempt to aid in this entire situation. And shocked beyond words at the fact they didn’t even see fit to disseminate the information to the thousands of members! But what I have discovered in this last week via my efforts to contact those that could — and should! — do something is that the whole thing is an endless circle of people and agencies that don’t want to do anything. It’s just a game of “pass the buck” that continues to let EDF get away with all of this.

That hasn’t stopped me — and many others — from continuing this fight, though. But what is beginning to irritate me is that while I know the link is being passed around — since I have been closely monitoring my stats — I’m 114% sure that the majority of people reading the post are reacting much like those aforementioned contacts. The “what can I do” and “how can I help” mentality is hard for me to understand since I have clearly listed the exact nature of how one can help! By the way, all of those things listed I have done myself. I’ve also been in contact with the reporter of several of these news pieces, Lions Clubs both local to me and the school, and many other places too numerous to list because I’ve lost track given the flood of emails.

So, I ask you, what have YOU done to help?!