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    hope that no matter what difficulties arise in family, health, or finances, a family can survive it and get to the other side. 'How' is not just one response, rather it's an evolving idea. Solutions present themselves as you go along the path. As you seek the thing it is you want to achieve, so will an idea come to you. I do not attribute it to a god or a religion, though I may have one or both of those. This is life. Hope. Live with me,... 



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    The Failure of TADSAW 

    The unfortunate letter I had to write as a caregiver to her husband's service dog agency... 

    Train a Dog Save A Warrior Program,

    We are appreciative of the opportunity TADSAW has given Marco and his family receiving his service dog Jan 16, 2012. Living with PTSD and TBI can be extremely frustrating, Marco's new service dog relieved so many symptoms drastically and quickly. Even the caregivers felt less burdened because the veteran had a new battle buddy at his side to help him.

    The support the trainer gives as well as the accountability and education are vital and necessary for the effectiveness of the service dog. Soldiers left to their own find it becoming another task they fail at, which is what the PTSD service dog is there to PREVENT. To prevent suicide, depression, high anxiety, isolation, and other symptoms, and rather give them a place to be successful, feel better about themselves, and have a partner as they battle with PTSD who is always there and unconditional.

    Because TADSAW has not kept their word to meet for weekly trainings and be available to communicate about issues that may come up with the dog, Marco has not progressed as he had hoped. Marco wanted to meet goals of training to be able to have his dog with him in the workplace as soon as possible, work being his number one stressor and place of need for support.

    As a caregiver, I am extremely concerned about the integrity of TADSAW and am apprehensive about recommending them to other veterans. This situation has brought much frustration into the home we do not need. In no way does there need to be further aggravating stress or concerns, especially from a foundation who is supposed to be offering relief, healing, and support. It has since become my role to remind of training goals, training commands, reinforcements, etc because of the TBI involved in our veterans health. A role I am not happy to take on considering TADSAW promised to provide this.

    We are seeking a quick resolution and the follow through TADSAW initially offered, with maintained consistency, quality, and compassion until the service dog is FULLY prepared and trained.


    This letter was sent a month after a phone conversation discussing the same situation of which we'd received no real change from. It was a call my husband made himself. I remember it distinctly, as it triggered him afterward for a few days he was so upset. Upset because he was basically told by the director that his trainers were extremely busy and that he had a lot of dogs and not enough help, etc etc. He had never really offered help, compassion, or a solution to my veteran husband. According to the director, he remembers no such conversation in March. This was his follow up after he received my letter: 

    Good morning!!! First of all, I apologize for what has and is happening. This is the first I have heard of anything not being followed up on. I wish you had contacted me sooner, as I would have gotten involved,. TADSAW is committed to the training of the Warriors and their dogs. And now that I am aware  of the  situation, I will stay in contact and more involved. There should be steady progression if the training .I never received any phone calls from Marco.during March, that i remember but that is not an excuse. And because of a lack of Trainers in Austin, my trainer from San Antonio was going to Austin on a weekly basis, as what I had been informed. Part of the warrior's commitment is also to travel to the training, and this program is a partnership between all of the parties.

    I apologize for what has transpired in the past, and I assure you that the program and training will be moving forward from today on. Marcos may have to start traveling to New Braunfels for training, until another trainer in Austin comes on board.

    I appreciate your contacting me and you have my commitment to see Marcos and the other Warriors thru the program. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

    As always, I remain,

    Bart Sherwood



    After this, not much happened for a couple of weeks. Vaccination papers were not being furnished, the trainer said the director had them. The director said later it was the trainer who had them, and the trainer was still not communicating well with my husband, not making appointments or answering any concerns. So I published the letter online and asked others for help. One in particular, Torrey Shannon, contacted the agency herself asking questions. This got a response and I quickly received this voicemail...

    TADSAW voicemail by amberausten

    First off, what does Marco's application process have to do with any of this? Why is that even brought up? Are they insinuating they are doing us favors? Isn't their organization in the business of awarding dogs to soldiers who deserve them because they fought for the country and did not leave the war unscathed? OK, moving on. 


    Spring 2012: We purchased our own new vaccinations and medications just to be sure the pup was covered and cared for. Not something we were expecting to incur cost-wise immediately. We are grateful to an Austin organization called Emancipet who made this a little more affordable to do. Marco was quickly referred to a new trainer whom met with him the weekend of April 28, he travelled to San Antonio to meet her. I am not sure she is a part of TADSAW, but perhaps may have been putting in a favor for the organization. I am updating this to you July 6th. That was the last time he saw her, and this is why: She asked him to look up the K-9 citizenship requirements online and train his dog to them on his own, then call her to test him. My husband has TBI and PTSD, with some speech, memory, and cognitive issues. How is this the best way to help a warrior train a service dog? Again, he felt frustrated and as if he was failing. We were told this would be an approximate 12 week training duration, meeting weekly. We agreed to travel to San Antonio whenever necessary. The entire purpose of the dog was continuing to be reversed on him, and I believe because of the lack of professionalism and commitment on the part of the agency. 

    We honestly are not quite clear where to go with this next, aside from just returning the dog, which he would really like to try and avoid doing since they have already bonded so nicely. 

    To be continued... 


    It has come to my attention I may have been impersonated by someone writing on other blogs and to media as myself, possibly concerning this matter. Please be advised: I have not emailed or commented on this matter elsewhere. I am NOT sending any campaign letters about TADSAW to anyone. If you are doubtful whether or not I've written something, always feel free to contact me with a question. Thank You. 


    I have information that shows TADSAW may have also been a victim as well, possibly by a rogue trainer. 

    To be continued... 


    My Husband's response to the situation: What's TADSAW is TADSAW, My Issue is Sleepless Nights 


    Today is January 27, 2013. We celebrated one year of having Echo on Martin Luther King Jr. day. Back in December, TADSAW helped us through a situation at Park University by speaking to thier disabilities coordinator. My husband decided it was not worth attending the university after their inital reaction, however, and opted to just continue his undergraduate degree elsewhere where he was more welcomed.

    At that time, TADSAW also gave us news that they had a new trainer in our area and we could begin lessons! After attempting to contact the new trainer in December, with no reply whatsoever, we realized this wasn't leading anywhere good. I received a voicemail last week that the trainer wasn't "working out like they thought." Again. For the fourth time now, built up hopes and let down. We are currently looking into options outside of the organization in order to lessen the frustration of my husband and move on with the dog helping him. 


    April 15, 2013: TADSAW is still not active in our service dog's training. I am extremely disappointed. We had to submit all kinds of information to this agency to "receive" a service dog, including medical information, personal reference letters from congregational leaders in our community, and military documents. I am actually nervous about the safety of our information at this point. We received nothing in return, except the dog, whom we could have rescued from a shelter ourselves without the intrusion of privacy into our personal lives, if all I wanted was a pet. I have asked for paperwork on the service dog since we received him, and they've had nothing to offer. I really am appalled at the lack of concern. I believe a service dog agency should have quality certified trainers on staff, have consistency in trainers to follow a soldier through his training entirely, have support resources for the wounded warrior; such as funnel organizations that want to assist in subsidizing the cost of pet care and supplies, along with many other things. I cannot wrap my mind around why they are still allowed to operate. This is like working with the VA. Smh.  



    October 10, 2013 Echo's Un-Official Early Retirement Well, this is it. Time to say uncle. After a year and a half of trying desperately to pick up the pieces of a service dog system that completely fell apart for us, Echo is staying home. 

    I cannot say I am thrilled about this. 

    It was actually advised by our mental health practitioner that Marco stop trying to train Echo because of the stress it was causing him. I understand why the situation is irreparable for the soldier to remedy, he really was against all odds. TADSAW (Train A Dog Save A Warrior) set it up that way by failing to keep their commitment. I think he showed tremendous effort to make it work, but the fact is, it is just too frustrating to do. I mean, can you even imagine? It's hard to teach a dog basic manners for a regular person, that's like me handing a hopeful seeing eye dog to my blind daughter and telling her "ok, you train it then it can help you!" She doesn't have the dog training skills or the vision. Dumb. I am very angry about the situation as a whole, it took a potentially healing experience and turned it into complete shit. It folded into itself and caused the exact problems it was supposed to be relieving. 

    Admittedly I don't want a pet to take care of. Our daughter, and my husband, and three other kids are quite enough thank you. Not to mention spending money on a dog that isn't providing his service as intended? Of course, however, our youngest child is attached at the hip to Echo, so I am definitely in a conundrum. In my heart of hearts, I still want Marco to receive the type of service dog he deserves to assist him. I am pretty sure that won't be what he desires any longer as this experience has left a horrible taste in his mouth. 

    I would not recommend anyone fund the efforts of TADSAW, nor apply for their services. I am appalled they are allowed to continue raising money claiming to help soldiers.  



    References (3)

    References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
    • Response
      My HUsband's response t this mess...
    • Response
      Response: appealing tgirls
      Amber Austen - Simply Peachy - The Failure of TADSAW
    • Response
      Response: wynajem żurawi
      Amber Austen - Simply Peachy - The Failure of TADSAW

    Reader Comments (42)

    And have they responded??

    April 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergloria

    Amber, I reached out to the Program Director to inquire about what is going on and how we can fix this and he responded in part with this:

    I am not making any excuses, as I am Program Director and Executive Director of TADSAW Foundation, Inc., and with that position comes the responsibilities of having to check up on the training progress of all applicants from today on.

    TADSAW has and always will be committed to the needs of the Warriors, who entrust us with the training of their dogs to become Service Dogs. It is unfortunate that the failure of certain individuals cause great harm to an entire program, and then leave management holding the 'bag' to clean up the mess. All I can say is that I am working to correct the mess created by others.

    I am expecting him to be in contact with you soon. Let me know if there is no resolution or insufficient resolution. ;)


    April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTorrey Shannon

    Thank you Torrey,... a million times over. I needed that other voice.

    April 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterAmber Austen

    Yes, with the help of Torrey we got the ball rolling again this week. We will see what happens!

    April 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterAmber Austen

    IT IS SAD THAT IS TAKES A WEBPAGE TO MAKE THE TADSAW PROGRAM DO WHAT THEY SAY. I am a former warrior of the program and After my trainer had quit due to the acts of the director "bart" I was informed by the trainer that he had left and was told by bart that they would take care of the training and find someone to work with me. That never happened and not a one phone call was placed to me expect by the trainer. HE HAS LEFT THE PROGRAM! He did not have to call me or help me. Well needless to say after reading this I wish that I had a webpage maybe they would have stepped up to help me. Oh well now I understand why the trainer left. Oh that and they still owe the train back pay for over four months. Hope they really do help you!

    May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA LOST SOLDIER

    I too was abandoned by TADSAW. I started training in Jan of 2012, then they "fired" my trainer who I had built a bond with. They said someone would call me and never did. The other trainer left too. That was in Feb. I have since had to find my own trainer to finish the SD process. They have over 700 applicants and very little to no staff. Bart does not return my calls. I'm glad you were able to fix things.

    July 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersadly abandoned

    We're still struggling

    July 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterAmber Austen

    They are not the organization they advertise. All their trainers keep leaving the program, because TADSAW seems to just want to push the dogs out as fast as they can and never follow-up with warriors. Only when you are in the news or a highly visible person do they seem to have any interest. If you can't get them great publicly, my experience is that they don't care.

    His previous trainers are still working with veterans after they left TADSAW, just to help clean up the mess. Most of his trainers never even got paid so not sure where all the money is going?

    I would like to speak to you if possible. How can I contact you to discuss this further?

    July 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersadly abandoned

    Instead of not making excuses this person didn't offer anything! Not an apology, not a time frame, not a lick of information. However, a large part of the body of the letter outwardly placing blame on other staff! Let me tell you TADSAW, I can spot your problem!! It's not your trainers. It's their boss.

    July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBecca


    It has come to my attention I may have been impersonated by someone writing on other blogs and to media as myself, possibly concerning this matter. Please be advised: I have not emailed or commented on this matter elsewhere. I am NOT sending any campaign letters about TADSAW to anyone. If you are doubtful whether or not I've written something, always feel free to contact me with a question. Thank You.

    July 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterAmber Austen


    I have information that shows TADSAW may have also been a victim as well, possibly by a rogue trainer.

    July 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterAmber Austen

    To share our experience: hubby has been triggered for the last week. The organization we got his service dog (Indie) from has imploded. They voted to turn from a nonprofit with a focus on service dogs to a for profit with a focus on therapy dogs. However there is lots of confusion because the ladies who own the rights to the name and the rights to the logo have been kicked out and they still plan on working as a nonprofit with a focus on service dogs. So we may or may not have any support for our dog. Plus, hubby just feels like shit because he has done a LOT of promoting for WAGS. So we are just waiting in limbo to find out what happens.

    July 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary Ferguson

    Attn All: my name is is Jimmy Dalton. Most dog people know me in the SA area. I offer free dog training in the SA community. I'm a 20 year Army K-9 trainer ( and still am) handler myself. I'm willing to help out as much as I can as long as you can get close to where I'm located. I can help you out with any issues you may have. I do this because I love dogs, not for money. If I can help or if you have any questions call me at 210 831-7455, thansk Jimmy

    July 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Dalton

    It seems to be that Tadsaw is trying to shift the blame any way but there way. I was the trainer who placed Echo with his soldier, Shortly after I had placed Echo I had no choice but to resign from Tadsaw. The fact of why are to long for this post. I will say that it is due to direct actions of the Board members of Tadsaw doing things I and many other feel were immoral towards staff and warriors, But that is my opinion please feel free to make your own judgement. When I resigned I had stated in my email to the board I was willing to continue to train the warriors I was currently working with at no cost because I just wanted to make sure they got the training they needed, But in the response letter from Bart the executive director he stated very clearly that I was to not contact any warrior because they are not "pawns" as he said and that all training will be taken care of and it was not longer my concern.

    All I want is to help out people in need of service animals, After resigning from Tadsaw I have continued to train and help Soldiers, children with autism, and any family's who needs services dogs, but cant afford to pay for a service dog or training at no cost to the families. If there is any thing I can do to help please let me know. I have expressed this in text, Emails, and via Facebook to this family and many others since the day I had resigned; But I want to make sure the offer of help is known to the public.

    I am also willing to answer any questions and show all proof about this and any other Situations that I have information about regarding Tadsaws failure to fill the promises made to the warriors and the staff alike!

    I also want to say thank you too your family, as well as to all the family's who have Soldiers that serve for our country! thank you for giving us the freedom of speech and the freedom to live our lives as we do on a daily basis safely in this country! Your sacrifices will never be forgotten or repaid no matter how much we try to give back!

    Bernard "Allen" Hanauer (210) 214-0182

    July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllen Hanauer

    This was sent out by email on 1 July 2012 from Ed Lefoski, TADSAW representative, in reference to a PTSD/Mobility SD:

    "The size of the dog did not allow it to be a service dog for D*. Imagine a 90 pound dog being a lap dog. It just does not work. Also a smaller dog needs to fit the profile of the person. There is a term I have heard and use. A masculine guy just does not want to use a fag dog for the most part. What this means is a poodle or other dog which is perceived to be a dog for females. My personal favorite is a jack russell terrier."

    July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarrieAnn

    My Husband's Response:
    What's TADSAW is TADSAW, My Issue is Sleepless Nights

    July 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterAmber Austen

    With any non-profit there is a fiduciary responsibility to disclose the funds that are donated as well as how they are used. TADSAW has never met that obligation. The director is in financial trouble and I question how the funds are being dispersed . The dogs are free and usually rescued from shelters to be "trained" for the organization. It appears to be a scam that has hurt a lot of military families that trusted an organization that in realty only cares about raising money. It's apparent in the posts that there is a problem in the organization and it continues to operate with little concern for who they hurt along the way.

    July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned

    Hello everyone. I am so sorry for everyone's trouble with TADSAW. We are having similar issues. My husband was awarded a dog in October of 2011. He was only partially trained and we were set up with a new trainer closer to us - or so we thought. We were told by Bart that the trainer would be moving closer to us (our same city) however, he is still well over an hour away. I continue to contact Bart to get nothing but empty promises as well as him trying to say it is our fault because we are not committed to the process. Our dog has not had formal training in over 6 months. I found a trainer on my own and he was all ready to join TADSAW and finish our dogs training....and then he spoke with Bart. After that conversation the trainer won't return phone calls or emails from me. He told me to talk to Bart. I emailed him and he doesn't even remember talking to the trainer. Someone in the organization also told me that he was talking about removing our dog from the program entirely. Sooooo frustrated. We all need to get together and force TADSAW to make good on their promises.

    September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrustrated Army Wife

    This sounds all too familiar. I'm so
    sorry you are going through this. It's very painful after all we are trying to handle already.

    September 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterAmber Austen

    So did everything get worked out and did your dog get fully trained? If so, how did you get TADSAW to follow through?

    October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrustrated Army Wife

    TADSAW now denies any wrong doing and says it is part of the growing pains but they have all the backs of the warriors they help! This is false and we need to speak out about this to someone who will listen! you should see them acting like they are good as gold to get money but fail to give credit tot he trainers and fail to say how many dogs have fail out of the program for biting, lack of training, or just flat out getting the run around from the directors bart and patsy!

    I want to thank all of you for posting your experiences. I now realize my gut was right and that I'm not the only one with doubts about what they can deliver. I'd like to hope that TADSAW is very good at what they do in San Antonio, but to try to go nationwide and not have the personnel support to handle the demands is a disservice to everyone involved.

    However, this is my experience since this April:

    In Aug they remembered I was approved by their org back in Apr for a trainable dog. I didn't consider following up myself because each time I tried, I would be told by email "Please RELAX - BREATHE - BE PATIENT". Months later, a volunteer called me to follow up who apologized that the ball was dropped. Then, I had a trainer assigned to me locally, but I had to call him. Once I did, he told me the org never contacted him and he didn't know who I was nor my background. The day he was coming over with his lab, he called to cancel and tell me he couldn't be the trainer. Now I was back to square one. The director didn't know the trainer quit till I told him. The volunteer that followed up with me, also quit.

    Since then, I've been on my own, finding a dog that they'll approve. Each time I do, there are excuses. Yet, they suggested I adopt a dog in NM that will undergo dental surgery, but question the one I'd like to have that's a rescue in MD. I don't trust that this org will provide what was promised when I applied in Apr.

    Therefore, I contacted a local org, WAGS 4 TAGS in NC. I'm hoping I'll have much more success with them. However, it's very disappointing to let go of a suitable dog I finally found in MD. This is very frustrating, but I appreciate your confirming my gut feeling. I figure that if the dog is still available when WAGS 4 TAGS approves, then that'll be my therapy/service dog.

    October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary McGriff

    Warrior Service Dogs are in Asheville. You can use your rescue with them. Good luck Mary!

    October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterveteran

    Thanks! I just looked them up and sent them a message. I asked if they can help those of us still on active duty or if I have to wait till I retire. Their site states to go through the VA. I'm not at that point till 2013.

    October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary McGriff

    I have a TADSAW dog and a wonderful trainer. I think some of the issues are that some folks want the world to cater to them. Having a service dog is hard work. It takes patience with them and A LOT of training. Once the dog has been trained to meet CGC and PAT standards its up to the soldier to communicate further needs to the trainer. They cant read our minds. I keep in constant contact with my trainer and she has always been great. I couldnt ask for more from TADSAW or my trainer. If you have a service dog and wonder why youre not getting training... Make a call, if your trainer doesnt answer, call TADSAW. Let them know your trainers name and that you are not being contacted. I know for a fact that they will take care of it. There was a bad trainer but he is gone now. Every bunch of grapes has a rotten one.

    October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason

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