Thursday, February 26, 2009

Therapy Dogs International -- strong language follows

I thought I was done with all this TDI-bashing, but I think I'm going to finally come out and say this. Some -- not all, certainly, but some -- of the TDI office staff are liars and con artists.

I really, truly feel I have been taken in by an organized con. They have my money and the high ground of saying they're a charitable institution doing good. I am left to sound whiny and plaintive. It's brilliant.

But after all the previous TDI foolishness, I finally wrote to the president directly (a concerned someone passed me a direct address). I received an email response and a phone call from another staffer.

The staffer sounded appropriately horrified. "Oh, no, we would never ask for money if you weren't already a registered member. You're in our system because your dog was approved."

I pointed out that we had tested in July 2008 and that this was January 2009, and we had never received our approval paperwork, nor any answers to my queries.

"I don't know why you wouldn't have been answered or why you didn't get your paperwork; you're approved. I'll send new paperwork out now."

She also listened to my story of Shakespeare's rejection despite his numerous references and the patent ridiculousness of his being rejected for dog aggression after he had to serve as the neutral dog for TDI's own testing (because the evalutor's "neutral dog" was still barking and lunging against the crate door even in another room). She agreed and suggested I submit an appeal.

She also was very interested in my report of a TDI evaluator passing dogs who were growling at the medical equipment and about which handling warnings were given to the evaluator to avoid a bite during testing. (Really.) The staffer said she didn't know why the test organizer's letter on the subject hadn't received a reply, but she would be sure to call her for more information, now that I'd given her the organizer's phone number.

That was in January. This is now the end of February. I have never received Laev's paperwork indicating that she is or has been registered with TDI. The person who contacted TDI about the dubious evaluator never received a phone call asking for more information. And her attempts to contact TDI have met with no answer -- they will not answer the phone, they will not respond to her emails.

But I said, stuff happens, maybe stuff got lost in the mail, who knows? So I called TDI again. "I am still waiting for my dog's registration paperwork. She tested in July 2008, and in January someone told me it would be sent again, and I still need that."

The staffer told me to renew online. When I tried to explain that this wasn't that type of renewal, she wouldn't let me finish my sentence, just repeating "Renew online!" again and again. I finally interrupted, rather more sternly than my usual self, and said that I did not want to pay another year's fee to get the paperwork I had not received from 7 months ago, that I had been told I could have my original registration. The staffer said she would look up my check -- and then she hung up on me.

When you take money for something -- registration, paperwork, insurance -- and then don't deliver it, that could be stealing or it could be gross incompetence. When you take money, refuse to deliver the product, and hang up on people who call to ask where the product is, that's pretty definitely stealing.

So, makes me wonder about the rest of TDI, too. If a TDI dog should bump or startle an unsteady patient who falls, what are the odds the promised insurance will come through for the handler? I wouldn't bet on it.

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