Kristie and Tim Maxfield’s 6-year-old son PJ has autism and is prone to wandering and eloping. The family, from Franklin, Massachusetts, knew they needed to do something as an extra precaution to help keep PJ from running out into the street, so they set up a fundraiser and asked friends, family members, and strangers to give money to help them afford an autism service dog to keep PJ safe.
“He’s a wanderer. He’s a runner. This dog was supposed to help us,” said Kristie.
But things didn’t go quite as planned. The family spent $14,000 in donations on an adorable little Briard dog named Teddy from a North Carolina nonprofit called Ry-Con and settled in to wait patiently for the pup to finish his training so that he could properly help PJ. But not long afterward, they learned RyCon was going out of business. They were informed that they would need to come pick up Teddy right away.
But Teddy is far from ready to go to his new home. He’s still a puppy, just eight months old, and hasn’t gotten the training he needs to help keep PJ from running off.
What the Maxfields have ended up with is more a liability than an asset, another family member they’re going to have to try to keep from running off and attempt to train for themselves when they’ve already got their hands full.
Mark Mathis, the owner of Ry-Con, says he’s going to do everything he can to right this unjust situation, but he also claims to be overwhelmed by all the other fires he’s attempting to put out at the dying company right now. In other words, it doesn’t look like the Maxfields will be getting their money back or a replacement dog anytime soon.
“I care very much about this family, but the business itself has simply become unsustainable,” said Mathis. “I’m in the moment right now trying to deal with our crisis. So, I can’t comment on what I’m going to be able to do in the future, except to say I will do all I can.”
The Maxfields, unsurprisingly, are not comforted by these empty promises. People they care about and who care about them donated money to help their son get a service animal that he desperately needs for his own safety. They’ll likely never see that money again, and PJ has been left without the canine helper he was promised.
Learn more about this unfair situation in the video below:
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?