(WSVN) - He is a disabled Army veteran who needed a service dog. He paid for one, and it was a mess. Now the people who sold him the dog won’t return all his money, which is why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Marshall Darden’s father fought in World War II — and Marshall wanted to serve his country as well.
Marshall Darden, wanted service dog: “I went in 1976.”
An Army veteran with the scars to prove it.
Marshall Darden: “I had a crushed disc in my back. I had 14 back surgeries.”
As you can see, walking is very difficult for Marshall, who is permanently disabled and at home alone when Susan’s at work. Then they decided to get a service dog for Marshall.
Susan Darden, spent savings for dog: “He’d feel better. He’d have a best friend when I’m not here.”
They were put in touch with a group called One Warrior Won, which sells service dogs to veterans. Susan took $5,500 from her 401K to pay for a dog named Ranger.
Susan Darden: “We were just excited. I don’t remember being this excited since we got married.”
They were told Ranger was a rescue dog and it would take four months to train him, but in just two months, Ranger was brought to their home.
It was a disaster.
Susan Darden: “The dog jumped on me, almost pushed me down. I mean, it’s a 65-pound dog.”
The Dardens said Ranger couldn’t have been any sweeter, but he was uncontrollable and couldn’t even be walked with a leash.
Marshall Darden: “Pulling me. I had to lock him up with two harnesses to make sure he wouldn’t fly away from me.”
After a week, Marshall and Susan say it was clear Ranger was not a well-trained service dog.
Susan Darden: “Because Marshall was hurting. Ranger was jumping on him. We knew it wasn’t going to work, and that is when I called and I said, ‘We cannot keep Ranger.'”
The owner of One Warrior Won came and took Ranger. The Dardens then saw on Facebook that Ranger was sent to another veteran in North Carolina.
Susan Darden: “And the new veteran holding the dog, and Marshall and I are both in tears, literally.”
Susan asked for their $5,500 back. They were told they could only get $3,500 back.
Susan Darden: “That leaves us $2,000 remaining. We feel like I should get back all of our money for the dog.”
The veterans group says that $2,000 went for expenses to get Ranger to the Dardens, so Howard, are the Dardens out of luck?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Absolutely not. This is simple. A service dog for a disabled veteran is supposed to help him and not knock him down. This dog was not trained long enough, and clearly is not ready to be a service dog. Because of that, the Dardens get all their money back from this group.”
And the Dardens soon saw more proof the dog was not trained properly.
Remember the veteran who Ranger was sent to after Marshall returned him? He gave him up as well.
The owner of One Warrior Won told us it didn’t work out with that veteran and the dog is back in a training facility. He blamed the Dardens for not giving Ranger time to adjust to them.
After refusing to return their $2,000, he told us he would give it back after Ranger is sold to a new veteran.
Howard Finkelstein: “Groups that help people like vets have to be careful in part because of the internet. Anybody who researches them can find out the good and bad about that organization with a click on the internet. That’s why it’s smart for this group to return the $2,000 as soon as possible.”
Susan says they hope the group keeps their word and returns their money, so they can find another dog for Marshall.
Susan Darden: “We would love a service dog moving forward. I just think a service dog would really, really help my husband’s quality of life.”
Hopefully we’ll be doing a follow-up story with Marshall and a service dog. Now, the people selling the dog to the Dardens are a legitimate nonprofit organization. And there is another group that keeps track of nonprofits across the country. If you want to find out about them before you do business with them, the link is below. A few minutes on that website could save you a lot of headaches.
Left howling after someone dogged you? Ready for the proper service? Contact us. We’re veterans … at fighting for you.
To Look Up Nonprofits:
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