Service dog provider puts Groves family on alert

Service dog provider puts Groves family on alert

A Groves family is taking legal action against the company that sold them a $20,000 service dog after the company, Guardian Angel Service Dogs, itself threatened litigation if the family didn’t turn over all the money it raised from fundraisers almost five months ago.

The McLeod family – Ryan, Tara and their twin sons Racer and Rider – along with a flood of supporters from throughout Southeast Texas, held a number of fundraisers for Racer, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes, commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes. The money raised went toward the purchase of a diabetic alert dog. Through scent detection, he can sense – when properly trained – when a person’s blood sugar level rises or falls to dangerous levels. Money was also raised to go toward ongoing medical care for Racer.

The McLeods are plaintiffs in a declaratory judgment filed last week in the 58th Judicial District in Jefferson County asking to sever ties with Guardian Angel Service Dogs after they received a dog that wasn’t completely trained and still isn’t 100 percent capable of warning the family if Racer has blood sugar that’s too high or too low.

While the training is part of the issue, Dan Warren, president of Warren Enterprises LLC, which also owns Guardian Angels Service Dogs Inc., a not-for-profit company out of Montpelier, Va., is demanding that the extra money made by the McLeods’ fundraising efforts go to him. In addition to Guardian Angels, Warren also owns Warren Retrievers, a company that breeds Labrador retrievers, which he also uses as the Guardian Angel service dogs.

Guardian Angels was registered with, which tracks nonprofit organizations; however, they did not supply the site with any IRS information, including a 990, which is to provide the public with financial information to ensure it is not abusing its tax-exempt status.

In a letter from Warren’s attorney, John W. Anderson, dated June 5 of this year, he states that the McLeods received “well in excess of $60,000 in charitable donations from fundraising activities” and that because the McLeods promoted the event “as being tax deductible to the donors and for the benefit of Guardian Angel,” Warren and his company are entitled to the excess money raised by the McLeods.

Messages left for both Warren and his attorney, Anderson, were not returned.

Matthew Morgan of the Reaud, Morgan & Quinn law firm is assisting attorney John Werner in the matter for the McLeods pro bono and said the McLeods fulfilled their monetary obligation with Warren and his company by paying the $20,000 for the dog and that any additional money raised is being used for Racer’s ongoing medical care.

The McLeods’ petition to the court states that the McLeods held several fundraisers and “through the generosity and caring of the community, including many people who had never even met Racer, enough money was raised not only to pay the Defendant (Warren), but also to set up a separate account devoted exclusively to Racer’s ongoing medical needs.”

The McLeods are seeking a declaration that they not be required to pay more than the $20,000 already paid for the dog and that Warren is not entitled to any money in Racer’s separate account.

McLeod argues that while they did use the Guardian Angel name when promoting the event – which Warren said they could do – there was never any mention made about excess funds going back to Guardian Angel Service Dogs and that Warren offered to help with fundraising along the way. McLeod also said the family never used Guardian Angels’ tax ID number.

“They don’t owe them money,” said Morgan. “The McLeods paid the $20,000 for the dog. (Guardian Angel) owes them some training, but we’ve offered to cut that off and go our separate ways, but they won’t.”

A dog that doesn’t alert

“We were told we’d be able to sleep through the night and if the dog noticed Racer’s blood sugar change, he’d come and alert us,” said Ryan McLeod, a Beaumont firefighter who is perplexed and frustrated with the whole situation. “My wife and I would’ve never gone with this company if we’d known we were going to have to train the dog ourselves.”

Guardian Angel provides one week of training when the dog is delivered and two days of training every 90 days for the next two years as part of the agreement. All other required training is to be done by the owner.The McLeods’ twin sons are 3 1/2 years old. Racer, in addition to diabetes, also suffers from albinism, which according to his father, is very rare considering neither he nor his wife have the gene for albinism. It’s the albinism that causes Racer’s pale skin, cloud-white hair and reddish eyes. There’s no medical proof that it’s a bi-product of his diabetes.

Late in November 2011 after a near fatal incident with Racer, the family began researching service dog companies and diabetic alert dog providers and Warren’s Guardian Angel Service Dog page was one of the first companies to pop up.

“Our main concern was at night,” said McLeod. “One night we checked him, he was perfectly normal to make it through to the morning, and 45 minutes later he was having a seizure.” Fortunately, Racer was sleeping with Tara that night and she felt him having the seizure. Had he not been sleeping with his mother that night and in his own bed instead, he could have died.

McLeod said most of the diabetic alert dog companies require the buyer to travel to the company to pick the dog up, whereas Guardian Angel actually flies out and delivers the dog to the customer.

“I talked to him on the phone, and he had me crying on the phone talking to him,” McLeod said of his initial conversation with Warren.

“He also told us the dog would be trained to alert when we received him,” said McLeod, adding that most service dogs go through one to two years of training before they’re given to a family. Gunner, the chocolate Labrador retriever the McLeod’s received, was 3 months old when he was delivered. “Obedience-wise, we haven’t had any issues,” said McLeod. “As far as being out in public, he listens and he does what he’s supposed to.”

McLeod said Warren assured him the dog would be trained to “alert,” meaning the dog would be able to notify Ryan and Tara if the dog, through scent detection training, noticed Racer’s blood sugar was too high or low. Ultimately, the dog is supposed to “paw” a person when Racer’s blood sugar is too high and “touch” with his nose if the blood sugar is too low.

At 5 months old, Gunner, while a good dog, is still learning how to detect, and can’t yet indicate high or low blood sugar. When Gunner was dropped off in May, the trainers that accompanied the dog indicated that the McLeods would be responsible for training the dog on how to “alert.”

“We said, ‘Wait a minute, the whole reason we got this dog was because it knows how to alert,’” said McLeod. “We told (Warren) my wife and I both have jobs, and between the two boys, we have very busy and hectic lives, and we don’t have time to train a dog.”

Maria Ikenberry, executive director for Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws, a service dog company out of Carrboro, N.C., said she’s never dealt with anyone from Guardian Angel and has only heard of the company. A relatively new company, Ikenberry said Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws has trained three diabetic alert dogs, and they took up to two years to train. She said her company has eight dogs it’s training right now and prefers training their dogs on-site as opposed to having the dogs trained with the owners.

“If you talk to Assistance Dogs International, you’ll find that that is not the standard for assistance dogs,” said Ikenberry. “What you’ll also find is there’s no standard for diabetic assistance dogs, either.”Bonnie Bergin, a pioneer in the service dog industry who actually came up with the idea of service dogs for people in wheelchairs 37 years ago, said it is preferred by most service dog agencies who are members of Assistance Dogs International that dogs be trained for up to two years by certified professional trainers as opposed to having a dog trained by a family with occasional training visits.

“I don’t see how parents as described, with the small amount of instruction, can do an adequate job training the dog,” said Bergin, who runs the Bergin University of Canine Studies, just outside of Santa Rosa, Calif.

Spreading the word electronically

Late Wednesday afternoon, a Facebook post was put on the Guardian Angel Service Dogs page by Warren letting all the members of the group know that “publicity was forthcoming” regarding the McLeods’ legal action against the company, which “may or may not be true,” according to the post. Warren indicated that a reporter from The Examiner might be in touch with Guardian Angel’s clientele, and if so, it was their discretion to speak with the media, but he was confident anyone who spoke would be “honest and forthcoming in your remarks about Guardian Angel Service Dogs. You, our friends that we have served, are our best line of defense against falsehoods. Thank you for your support.”

One of those customers who came to the defense of Warren and Guardian Angel was Jamie Shasteen, whose daughter Alissa suffers from Type 1 diabetes and is expected to get her dog in the fall. While the family, which lives in Illinois, is still raising funds for the dog, she said it’s a “moral” issue and “common sense” that any excess funds raised by a family working with Guardian Angel be given to the company since it’s being raised for Guardian Angel and using the Guardian Angel name.

“The McLeod family fundraised using Guardian Angel Service Dog’s name,” said Shasteen. “They exceeded what they needed to pay for the dog, and it’s common sense when you go over, that money goes back. They’re just mad that they fundraised using that name and that tax ID number and they were told they couldn’t keep the money after they kept the money.”

Shasteen said that Warren made it very clear “from the beginning” that excess funds raised by families would be put back in a fund that would go to other families in the same state looking for diabetic alert dogs. She also harped on the McLeods for their lack of “research” since the company clearly indicates training is done primarily by the family and not done prior to the dog’s arrival.

“They should’ve known that before they got the dog,” said Shasteen.

While her arguments certainly support Guardian Angel’s contentions, Shasteen was a little shaky when it came to details regarding the information that “clearly” states the fundraising and training protocol.

“That’s stuff that you find out when you start with this company,” said Shasteen. “You can ask Dan yourself.” She said she’s known about the company for more than a year, but has been working with them for “about five months.” When pressed further about where the protocol is listed, Shasteen continued, “I don’t know if (Dan) specifically told me that, but it’s common sense. It’s common sense to anybody with common sense.”McLeod said neither he nor his wife was ever briefed or informed on the fundraising and training protocol from Warren. A glimpse at Warren’s Web site mentions how he offers help fundraising for clients buying a dog through Guardian Angels, yet provides no insight as to what is done with excess funds.

“He’s great working with you throughout the fundraising process leading up to buying the dog,” said McLeod, “but once he gets paid, it’s impossible to get in touch with him and he passes off everything on to his trainers. If I’d known we were going to go through all this, we’d have never chosen this company.”

Fred Davis can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 227, or by e-mail at fred [at] theexaminer [dot] com.



this is not the first time

this is not the first time this family does business this way for their own profits. They will justify it with untruths in order to keep the money to make their life easier. That company is not the first to be cheated by them in order to make their own life easier. If the money was raised in order to help the organization, they need to give the company that it was donated to. But they prefer to keep it of course for themselves. Not surprising, they have made families homeless before and can still sleep at night and keep raking in money for themselves. If the dog is not trained as their defense, that really has nothing to do with justifying stealing donations.

GASD needs more money?

With Warren Retrievers and GASD (yes, they are affiliated, Dan is a liar) charging $20,000 for a young puppy and selling around 400 of them a year, you think they need more money? I'd love to see their filings with the IRS. Which are made available to the public. I think I will do some poking around on the IRS website tomorrow...

(Crickets crickets crickets

(Crickets crickets crickets crickets)

...looking at my watch....hmmmm....

(Crickets crickets crickets crickets)


Anonymous..........Im a little taken back by your comment. Actually this is one comment that has made me laugh. Please tell me of another instance. Im a little baffled.

Please explain who else they

Please explain who else they have hurt or stole from

Not the first time?

Oh really? This has happened before? Very interesting. Please elaborate, I think this is crucial.

Helped who?

Why don't we hear from some of the families Mr.Warren has helped financially with the $500,000+ he has received from these children's families?

I was helped and am still being helped

I have been greatly helped and continue to receive a tremendous amount of help and support from GASD.

you will not be helped by any

you will not be helped by any funds raised for the organization by this family though. This family decided to help themselves.

It is Dan Warren's job to

It is Dan Warren's job to defend himself, not yours. Is it your obsession to bash people who don't agree with you? Get lives people. Live them or get hobbies.

To start off...I am part of

To start off...I am part of the GASD family but I do think that we should hear all of the story before passing judgment. Only some of the story has been posted and everyone needs to take a step back before posting nasty comments about either party. None of us know how the McLeod's went about raising their money. Were any of us there? I seriously doubt it. If you are reading all of the comments then you will see people from their community posting comments supporting the McLeod family. So if they thought that they were donating money to GASD then wouldn't you think that they would be mad and not supporting them? I just think that we need to stop with all of this crazy posting and let the courts take care of this and let them decide who is wrong.

If the family has a

If the family has a foundation to help pay for their son's medical bills, it is tax deductible. You guys need to think outside the box. Also, will the warren culties please back down off of this family. They are fighting to save their son and don't need you guys here at all.

What I find shocking is that

What I find shocking is that the people of this community can't spell. They also can't seem to use correct grammar and structure. I suggest before you get the Holier-than-thou attitudes, you might want to read what you post before hitting that submit button. Oh yes one more thing. By know means am I knowledgeable in legal matters, but you can tell who's saying what and where their chips fall. Grow up people you're acting like children.

In a post criticizing others

In a post criticizing others grammar you may want to proof read your own.

"By know means am I knowledgeable in legal matters"

All for Racer!

Insurance does pay for medical bills but all of you need to know and REMEMBER that insurance only pays EIGHTY percent. The McLeod's have medical bills, TRUST me. They also will be able to provide Racer with the best possible preventative care for his diabetes which will help detect any vision issues, kidney problems or circulation issues. There are so many other things that come along with diabetes. There are so many jealous judgemental people in this world. It is so sad.
EVERYONE can see how much the McLeod's love their boys... hence. the community raised SIXTY grand.... and they deserve every penny!

we all love our

we all love our children...but not all of us steal, cheat and lie to help our children. You would have to know the fam and how they conduct their financial matters and you would see that this is a pattern of greed and selfishness at the expense of others with comparable hardships. Ones who may not know them may feel sorry for them... but ones they have cheated and thrown under the bus, know this is just another incidence of their selfishness at great expenses to others. Hope the truth wins this time!

I have known Tara all my life

I have known Tara all my life she is two years older than me and I "know" she has always been a loving, caring, and giving person. I have known Ryan for at least 10 years even before he became a fire man Ryan gave in service to his community. One of his first jobs was for the YMCA and he has been a Big Brother for many years. That is why this community came out to support this family no matter what it was for and why you can see that there community is here now supporting them again.

it makes since that you would

it makes since that you would know the people in your own family.


Hello anonymous, please tell me how we have done this and how you think you know our "financials" is a joke.It is my job as a father to take care of my kids and i will do so even if we dont have the extra money that month. I know this is crazy talk, but I hold no ill will towards you as you are hiding behind "anonymous".

responding to Carrie P.

I am a type 1 diabetic myself. I have had diabetes for several years and now have an insulin pump. I agree 100% with Carrie P.'s post. This young family deserves and will need the extra money. This community knew this family and wanted to help the family. There are so many complications from diabetes and they should get all the money raised.


I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF HAVING A BENEFIT AND GIVING THE EXTRA MONEY AWAY. So what you people who support Dan are telling me is that a cancer patient that has a benefit for medical expenses and raises more than they need should give the extra to the hospital. THAT IS THE DUMBEST THING I EVER HEARD. As a supporter of Racers benefit I knew that any extra money would be used for medical bills and supplies. Which is exactly where it needs to be. IF A CHILD NEEDS A DOG THEN THE PARENTS NEED TO PUT FORTH THE EFFORT TO RAISE THE MONEY JUST LIKE THE MCLEODS DID!!!

Off topic but needs to be said


Please pass along my appreciation to your husband for his service as a firefighter and to Ryan for his service as well. Just wanted to say thanks and wanted there to be at least one positive comment on here.

Matt you have said many

Matt you have said many positive things. Thank you from them. I do wish you and yours health and happiness.

All this negativity and

All this negativity and attacking making me sick....I keep trying to get something positive going :) I just wish it would spread!

It only takes a spark to get

It only takes a spark to get a fire glowing. :) You keep reminding me to be nicer. So you are making some impact at least.

It is not that we have to agree with each other...its that we should treat each other with dignity and respect while discussing an issue tnat is near and dear to ojr hearrs

It only takes a spark to get

It only takes a spark to get a fire glowing. :) You keep reminding me to be nicer. So you are making some impact at least.

It is not that we have to agree with each other...its that we should treat each other with dignity and respect while discussing an issue tnat is near and dear to ojr hearrs

Well said

Well said

Meeting Needs, Changing Lives

One, and just one, of the benefits that drew me to sign up with Warren Retrievers and fundraise through Guardian Angel Service Dogs on behalf of my daughter was that I could fundraiser to bring this Lifesaver home to her and anything that I was able to raise above and beyond our personal goal, would stay within our community. We have been blessed that two different groups in our city have adopted her cause and I have been up front with them from the begining, as well as to personal donations, that anything we raise above will benefit others in our area first! This was made very clear on my very first, and lengthly, call to Dan. Since our intial sign on the city has grown with families and what I love most is that we all work together, support each other and all want to see each other's goals met. The personal relationship with Guardian Angel Service Dogs is unlike any other I have experienced. Upon research I had several organization not return my call, Dan responds himself and very quickly. Other organizations required our family to have a dog they can train or required traveling and limited training. We chose Guardian Angel Service Dogs for the added security of the support that we would have for years after our daughter recieves her D.A.D., and this support comes to us. If I were to start this process over again, I would change nothing! Guardian Angel Service Dogs has met a need for my child and forever changed her life.

Marijane is ON HOLIDAY, so

Marijane is ON HOLIDAY, so no, none of these are her. She actually has a life and is currently enjoying it with her family.

Bigger concern

One area that has not been brought up is how many times has this happened before ?
How many times has a family exceeded it's goal of the $20,000? This can not be the first time this has happened.

Where are these extra tens of thousands of dollars going? Not to the families that raised the money. Certainly not the IRS as it is a 501c.

Please, don't tell me to the "poor" families. My understanding is that EVERY family MUST do fundraising no matter what their income status. It is a contract requirement.

EVERY FAMILY MUST RAISE $20,000. EVERY FAMILY MUST RAISE TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. How many have raised $30,000-$40,000-$50,000. The McLeod's did it, what's to say not every family accomplished so much more.

A woman I know wanted to buy a dog outright and the cost jumped to $23,000. Is the reason for the increase because that leaves Dan Warren the possibilities of not collecting much much more than $20,000?

Where is the family/ families that these extra monies bought dogs for? The family that was exempt from fundraising.Please would those exempt families stand up and show us just how charitable Dan Warren really is?

Dan Warren is very adept at tooting his own horn and how much GASD does for the under privileged but yet he has never mentioned how surplus funds from any family provided a pup for any other family without them having to do anything. Wouldn't that look great on his website? A list of families that received their dogs 100% free of charge due to the generosity of other families...The Warren Family.Just as the logo of the JDRF endorsing him is a fraud so is his charitable work. Dan Warren supports only one charity...Dan Warren.

My family was one of the

My family was one of the families that benefited from extra fundraising money. Two days after I called to inquire about getting a DAD for my daughter I received a phone call from Mr. Dan stating that someone had chosen my family to make a large donation to from there extra fundraising money. The family happened to live in the same community and seen our story on the news. So yes they do use the extra money to help others in the GASD family. My daughter just went on the waiting list on June 4 th so we are still waiting and if we raise more money than needed Mr Dan informed us on the second day of joining GASD that we all pay it forward to other families.

Wait. Im confused?! You are

Wait. Im confused?! You are benefiting from extra funds raised by other families but you still have to raise funds???

Shannon, I to was told the

Shannon, I to was told the same thing. And I will to pay it forward. Because some things were done from state, I'm still waiting for some checks to come in..All under Guardian Angel Service Dogs Inc. name..Not mine...

Thank you for coming forward.

Thank you for coming forward. So did you have to raise less than the $20,000 to secure your pup ?

Jeanine, There are a lot of


There are a lot of families out there that help each other. We are all in this for the same reason. To save our children. It's an individual choice to go with a D.A.D. or not to. Those of us who have chosen Dan and GASD has done so with a lot of research, we have all spoke with him on the phone, through E-mails before even making our decisions. We have all called numerous places. So for this family to cause this much negative press is beyond words. .

Sherry I have spoken with Dan

Sherry I have spoken with Dan Warren several times and based on those conversations we chose to go elsewhere for our family's D.A.D. Our dog has been alerting since he was 10 weeks old and is a scent imprinted pup. We did fundraising and have lifetime support from our D.A.D. family.

Nobody has to raise the

Nobody has to raise the 20,000 to secure the pup. You only need a 1,000 dollars and then you have three years to pay for it. And yes I don't no longer have to raise the full 20,000 because I only have to raise the remaining balance. But I will still raise the 20,000 plus some because I want to be able to pay it forward to another child in our area that is interesting in getting a DAD. I hope this helps, Mr Dan from day one considered us family and so did everyone else.

OK so none of you see the

OK so none of you see the obvious? No matter how you "Pay it forward" He is still getting better than $20,000 a is my math

Shannon you raise $23,000 so you "gift" $3,000 to Mary

Mary now has $3,000 so she raises $28,000 more and "gifts" $8,000 to Jane

Jane now has $8,000 and raises $25,000

So now GASD has receive $76,000 for 3 puppies!!! that were supposed to be $60,000 and each of you feel a camaraderie to the person who gifted you.
This is nothing more than a big Ponzi scheme, and probably just the tip of the ice berg on the actual amount of money being collected.

I find it funny how you and

I find it funny how you and others are so hung up on the cost of these pups. If he was profiting than how come he is not the one under investigation for misappropriating funds. Many have tried but at the end of the day he can show where the funds go and if he was making the profit than he would not have his non profit status. Duh common sense. He has nothing to hide and is an open book with the IRS. Now the McLeods on the other hand are gonna have a fun time showing what they are doing with the extra funds.

Duh ??? Really????

Melinda until this point I had thought we were having an adult conversation.... you have just shown me and everyone else how young and naive you are. Please google Bernie Madoff or Aubrey Lee Price or any recent newspaper on articles dealing with fraud and misappropriation of funds. It is only a matter of time.

Thats the question I am

Thats the question I am interested in having answered. Yes People have said they know that have been helped but none that have come forward.

I have been in the DAD

I have been in the DAD community for awhile and have many friends with DADs from different organizations and those who have been self-trained like my DAD. I have NEVER before heard of anyone getting a Warren Retriever for free or less money. Never until these couple of comments, so not sure how reliable they are. It is also a widely known fact that if you have one of Warren's dogs, it is strictly prohibted to speak out or question Warren in any way or you risk having your DAD, who you actually trained yourself and fundraised every bit of the money for yourself, away because Warren still owns your DAD. I am glad to see this some exposure to what goes on with this organization. It has been a long time coming.

And Josh, our comes with

And Josh, our comes with obedience training already and already with in minutes sometimes seconds of walking through our doors alerts to our children or others? I know many self trainers through face book, and from what I heard, your dogs only alert to you, that would be sad if someone in the family hasn't' gotten Dx. yet and your DOG missed it, because it was trained by you..And your dogs only have the ability from day 1 to alert for only lows, where our D.A.D's alert to highs and lows from minutes even seconds of walking through our doors. And they don't come with any training at all, you have to do that yourself. And please correct me if I'm wrong, you don't even get a personal trainer? And you have to travel to get your dog, gas, air fare, lodging, food etc, take obedient classes and service dog classes? So now with all that being said, your now $4,000-$6,000 has now become more than our $18,000-$20,000 D.A.D.'s...that we have every 3 mos. personal trainers to come out and help, we have via. e-mail, face book, phone calls to keep in contact with our trainers if we need help as well. So who do you have for your $4,000-$6,000 dog, that now exceed the cost of ours! I would do much needed research before you cast out in an article like this one.

As stated above you have to

As stated above you have to pay $1000 to secure your DAD, and then you have almost 3 years to raise the rest what part of that do you not understand? And how does Dan still own the dog?

Dont you worry Josh. We have

Dont you worry Josh. We have this guy's number and we are not backing down. He has no clue who he messed with now.

WOW, CARRIE..You're pretty

WOW, CARRIE..You're pretty brave..that sounds like a threat to me??? Speaking of being in the law enforcement, that is a threat.

Think so? Let me be more

Think so? Let me be more specific. We have information regarding his business practices and fraudulent dealings. We intend to press this matter IN THE COURTS to the fullest extent of the law. We will not be bullied by his lawyer, or his friends or Mr. Warren into being quiet. I dont consider that a threat...i consider that a promise...thats what this article is about. But whatever makes you feel good Sherry D. And you have no idea how very brave all the individuals in this situation are. The coward will be revealed. So...yeah...WOW...

If you forget my may call me Boudicca.

Coments "saved"

...and the statements have been saved in case they are needed to show to the courts. NOT deleted as they usually are.

I'm not sure how the comments

I'm not sure how the comments on the internet from parties not involved in the litigation would be relevant to the courts? Since nobody here officially represents either party. Perhaps I might be educated on the relevance?

How can you not see the wool Warren has pulled over your eyes???

On his website Warren has a press release that states "Guardian Angel Service Dogs, Inc. wants to make it very clear that Warren Enterprises, LLC is not affiliated with Guardian Angel in any manner and does not "own" Guardian Angel."

This confuses me because on his personal website it states "To learn more about Guardian Angel Service Dogs and how you might help advance the work of this important organization, please contact Dan Warren, President at 540-543-2307."

That certainly looks like affiliation to me? Or am IO missing something??