[nagdu] . Re: fidelco guide dogs,----?

Marion Gwizdala blind411 at verizon.net
Thu Aug 18 16:49:04 UTC 2011

    On the one hand, you say there is turmoil between some of the consumers 
and Fidelco. On the other hand, you say that there is nothing but praise 
from the consumers. It cannot be both ways! Which is it?
    The reality of the situation is that there was a Fidelco consumers group 
that operated as a Yahoo Group for several years. The agreement was that the 
staff of Fidelco would not subscribe to the group, allowing them to discuss 
issues freely and without retribution. When eliot Russman became the 
Executive Director, he subscribed to the group in violation of the original 
agreement. He lurked on the group, not letting subscribers know he was 
reading their messages. As the result of his presence, some of the consumers 
had negative experiences. One consumer mentioned that her current guide dog 
and her previous guide dog got into a scrap and, when she attempted to break 
it up, was accidentally bitten by one of them. A few days later, a trainer 
showed up at her door unannounced and repossessed her harness.
    When the article I wrote appeared in the Braille Monitor, Fidelco 
consumers began discussing it on the list, relating some of their concerns 
about how that particular consumer was treated and relating their own 
stories of similar mistreatment. Shortly thereafter, Eliot Russman sent a 
message to the moderator stating that use of the Fidelco name was a 
violation of trademark and the list was to be shut down. Interestingly, 
until consumers began expressing their concerns about the administration, 
there was no problem with the list. It was a great way for Mr. Russman to 
keep tabs on consumers. When the consumers began questioning the 
administration, the list - of which Eliot Russman was a part - suddenly 
became a trademark infringement.
    As I stated in my previous message, Mr. Russman engages in bullying 
behavior that borders on unethical. Such an organization presents serious 
concerns for those of us whose business is the protection of consumers. The 
best protection we can offer is to discourage consumers from using their 
services until they can demonstrate to us that they will take the necessary 
stepts to treat us with dignity.

fraternally yours,
Marion Gwizdala

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Artie." <anolden at tampabay.rr.com>
To: "NAGDU" <nagdu at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2011 11:31 AM
Subject: [nagdu] . Re: fidelco guide dogs,----?

>    Well, the original Fidelco yahoo group was disbanded a few months 
> ago,and a new one started by graduates.  There was some turmoil between 
> SOME grads and the administration, but I didn't pay attention to it as I 
> am not a Fidelco handler.
>    The Fidelco grads are wonderful people, and have nothing but praise 
> about their guides.
>    Artie.
> From: "Marion Gwizdala"
> As the president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, I have 
> had numerous stakeholders - consumers, staff members, donors, & 
> volunteers -  report to me that the current administration of Fidelco 
> Guide Dogs for the  Blind engages in behavior that can best be described 
> as "bullying".
> Consumers have had their dogs and harnesses repossessed by Fidelco with no 
> due process or explanation, have violated their written and verbal 
> agreements, and have engaged in blatant disregard of basic human rights.
> s's's'sn'n'nipped for brevity.
> ==================.
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