Action News Jax Investigates: Barefoot K9 Project questioned by clients

In November, we told you about little Adaliene and the money the community pulled together to raise to buy her a service dog.

Action News Jax has learned the nonprofit responsible for training Adaliene’s service dog and many others is under investigation.

The Clinch County Sheriff’s Office confirmed there is an active investigation into the Barefoot K9 Project. For the past two weeks, families have laid out their allegations against the organization and are considering suing to get their tens of thousands of dollars back.

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Colleen Miller, the former director of the project, exposed a letter from Atlantic Coast Bank saying the organization's account was more than $1,400 overdrawn.

Cecil Allen Brown, the founder of the organization, said these are all accusations, but admits the account was overdrawn.

A local mother, who didn’t want to be identified, sent her email conversation with Brown from last year.

She claims to have given Brown $15,000 that had been donated for her to buy a service dog for her child. When the dog began transitioning into their home, the mom wrote Brown, “I have ever growing concerns about the dog's attention span and his scaring so easily, as well as his disregard for the leash and extreme pulling when he is in my child’s control.”

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She claimed the dog even pulled her young child off a scooter, he wouldn’t  sit and was “not cut out for service dog work.”

Brown responded, saying that after a year, the dog is still not fully trained adding, “If at that time the dog placed does not meet JAADP standards, we will refund your supporters in full.”

We spoke to another local mother who now fears she’ll never get her dog, or the $10,000 that was donated.

“We are afraid people might be coming for us now looking for their money back. There is nothing we can do.”

A breeder claimed she gave The Barefoot K-9 Project six dogs. She claims they were never trained or taken care of and she’s reported the organization to the Clinch County Sheriff’s Office for charity fraud.

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The campaigns to raise money for service dogs on the organization's website has been taken down.

A breeder from Hazelhust, Georgia, said she gave Brown four dogs to be trained as service dogs, but later found two of them for sale on Craigslist,  and that he “resold them for his own profit.”

She claims she never saw a dime of the hundreds of dollars she was promised .

In a Facebook post, a woman who said she donated a dog to the organization to become a service dog was used for breeding instead. She said one of the puppies ended up dying.

All families that we spoke with say they are looking to take legal action against Brown to try and get their money -- tens of thousands of dollars -- back.


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