McLeods fight effort to move alert-dog suit
A little more than one month after Ryan and Tara McLeod filed a lawsuit against Dan Warren and his diabetic alert dog company Guardian Angel Service Dogs, Warren has hired a local attorney in Beaumont and filed a motion in Jefferson County to have the lawsuit either dismissed or moved to Virginia, where Warren runs his companies.
Ryan and Tara have been squabbling with Warren and his Guardian Angel Service Dogs for nearly three months after Warren, through his lawyer, demanded money made in a February fundraiser for one of Warren’s diabetic alert dogs. The price tag for the dog was $20,000. Once Warren found out that the McLeod’s fundraiser brought in much more money than the $20,000 they paid for the dog – somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 – he told the McLeods he was “owed” all the rasied money because he alleged they had used his company’s tax ID when promoting the event.
The McLeods’ 3-year-old son, Racer, suffers from juvenile diabetes. The dog is supposed to alert when it senses a drop in blood sugar, but the McLeods say their dog Gunner, despite the $20,000 price tag, still can’t fully alert them to changes in Racer’s condition.
Matt Morgan, one of the lead attorneys working for the McLeods, said the family never used Warren’s tax ID number for any purpose and after receiving a dog that didn’t alert the way Warren guaranteed it would, they simply want to end their relationship with Warren and his company.
“There’s nothing in the McLeods’ contract with Guardian Angel Service Dogs that stipulates any excess funds from the fundraiser are owed to Dan Warren,” said Morgan. He added he finds it amusing that Warren, who was given a 35-year prison sentence for running a fraudulent scheme while working as a finance manager at a car lot in 2007 that was commuted to probation, would want the lawsuit the McLeods filed in Texas moved to Virginia so that Virginia law would control the matter.
“These are the same laws he’s been proven not to care about,” said Morgan.
No court date has yet been set in Jefferson County to determine what will become of Warren’s motion. Warren is being represented locally by Patricia Chamberlain of Mahaffey Weber.
The McLeods are exhausted by how things have proceeded in the last month and have been inundated with calls from other parents and family members who have gone through Warren’s company only to get dogs that aren’t as well-trained as Warren insisted they would be, or families that are concerned about buying a dog from Warren.
Ryan McLeod said a family in New York that he’d been talking with suggested that Warren might try to come and take his dog, but he doesn’t think that would be a good idea. “He doesn’t want to show up at my house,” Ryan said.
While the McLeods wait for a court date, they both stay busy to keep their minds off what has been a tumultuous few months. Tara will soon participate in a walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Ryan is helping with a local 9-year-old’s fundraiser for an epileptic seizure alert dog.
“We’ll be doing our homework after my family’s experience,” Ryan said. And of course they continue to take care of Racer and his twin brother, Rider.
As for the ideal outcome for everyone involved, Morgan, who has worked diligently on the case, said he’d like to see the judge look at the facts and see that the McLeods don’t owe any more money to Warren or Guardian Angel.
“He’s trying to hide behind a contract that he forces all his clients to sign, yet what he’s claiming is nowhere in the contract,” Morgan said.