3 Iowans say they left dog with nonprofit, haven’t seen it since

Three people who went to Paws and Effect all have similar stories to share.They say…

Three people who went to Paws and Effect all have similar stories to share.They say they left their dog with a local non-profit that trains service dogs, and they have been unable to get them back In December 2020, when the Essary family went on vacation, their dog Harrison, a hound mix, was left in the care of Max Garcia, a Paws and Effect trainer.The Essary family returned from vacation to find Harrison wasn’t with Garcia. Over the nearly year-long investigation, KCCI found other people who went to Paws and Effect are going through similar things.”It’s a big loss for her and our family because he was part of our family too,” said Amber Essary, the owner of Harrison. Amber Essary says her daughter depended on Harrison to help her cope with anxiety and depressionShe said those struggles have been worse without the dog by her daughter’s side.Essary said Paws and Effect claimed Harrison was overweight, and that’s why they took him.Nearly a year later, the Essarys still don’t have their dog and they still don’t have answers — but they do have a conviction.Paws and Effect trainer Max Garcia, who was supposed to be watching Harrison was found guilty of theft earlier this month.Garcia testified that in December of last year, his boss, Executive Director Nicole Shumate instructed him to leave his house with the doors unlocked so someone could take the dog.”When you left the home that day after calling Nicole, was it was your understanding that the animal was going to be returned to Ms. Essary,” said Andrew Anderson, a state attorney representing the Essary’s. “I don’t know of any further plans,” Garcia said. In Polk County Court, State attorneys pointed to an Iowa law allowing organizations to take back dogs they believe are in immediate danger.That law reads, “the rescue must be made by a law enforcement officer having cause to believe that the animal is a threatened animal after consulting with a veterinarian.”Garcia testified that he didn’t know about that law when Paws and Effect took Harrison over concerns about his weight.A Polk County judge said that claim is “not credible and defies common sense.”The other issue — Paws and Effect does not have legal ownership of Harrison.Documents presented in court show Paws and Effect is not mentioned on the adoption papers.”So nowhere in there is Paws and Effect mentioned as a party to the adoption of Harrison,” Anderson said. “Correct,” Garcia said.In the judge’s written guilty verdict against Max Garcia for the theft of the dog, she said, “The Court rejects the Defendant’s attempt to cloak vigilantism with his, and Paws & Effect’s, unsubstantiated and uncredible claims of concern for Harrison’s welfare.”Garcia was sentenced to five days in jail and an $855 fine.”I do believe they have affected a lot of people in a negative way and they probably should not continue to run their business,” Essary said.As the Essary’s have battled Paws and Effect, other Iowans have stepped forward with similar stories.”We were all in the same training class and we don’t have a dog right now. Any of the three of us,” Kayonna Topp said.In a civil hearing in early November, Garcia testified that they have removed three dogs over the past year. Months after Harrison was taken, Kayonna Topp says Paws and Effect took her dog Kashi away, claiming the dog was overweight and they never gave her back.  Army veteran Trevor Van Dyke said Paws and Effect told him Krumbles, a dog he was in a long-term placement with, had back issues.In June 2020, the organization posted on Facebook that after evaluating Krumbles’ suitability to continue as a service dog, they decided to “let him retire as a pet dog before placing him.” From that time, Krumbles was able to stay with Van Dyke. Van Dyke said that in August 2020, he trusted a Paws and Effect employee to care for Krumbles while he was out of town, and when he came back, Krumbles was gone.”He helped me with my PTSD, my anxiety, my depression, my mood swings, my everything. He helped me get out into the public. He was my guy,” Van Dyke said.KCCI asked Executive Director Nicole Shumate for the vet records of all three dogs, she never replied to those requests.These three say their lives have changed for the worse without the dogs they’ve trusted to help them with life’s daily tasks.Van Dyke once strolled around Iowa State University’s campus with Krumbles, but said he dropped out of graduate school due to PTSD.”My life has been set on a completely different trajectory,” Van Dyke said. “It’s been the single most devastating thing that ever happened to me.”Topp says the loss of Kashi was nearly deadly. “They took a dog away from me that was set up to save my life. Honestly, I was suicidal,” Topp said. Their lifelines, in the shape of a furry friend, gone. What they have now is frustration.”They ruined my life. They ruined his life. They ruined her daughter’s life,” Topp said.The victims have many questions.”Where is he at? What happened? What really happened? What’s the truth? What’s going on?” Van Dyke asked. They also have concerns about what Paws and Effect is doing with the dogs.”This organization has devastated the lives of several different people,” Van Dyke said. As for the three dogs and where they are now, aFacebook post from Paws and Effect in March claims Krumbles died.Ashley Anderson testified that Kashi is in Iowa with a Paws and Effect board member.We still don’t know where Harrison is, and the organization won’t tell the Essarys.Max Garcia has appealed his theft ruling and sentencing.Amber Essary and Kayonna Topp filed complaints to the Iowa Attorney General’s office. Those complaints are still open. KCCI reached out to Paws and Effect several times since Garcia’s conviction for a statement. They did not reply to those requests.

Three people who went to Paws and Effect all have similar stories to share.

They say they left their dog with a local non-profit that trains service dogs, and they have been unable to get them back

In December 2020, when the Essary family went on vacation, their dog Harrison, a hound mix, was left in the care of Max Garcia, a Paws and Effect trainer.

The Essary family returned from vacation to find Harrison wasn’t with Garcia.

Over the nearly year-long investigation, KCCI found other people who went to Paws and Effect are going through similar things.

“It’s a big loss for her and our family because he was part of our family too,” said Amber Essary, the owner of Harrison.

Amber Essary says her daughter depended on Harrison to help her cope with anxiety and depression

She said those struggles have been worse without the dog by her daughter’s side.

Essary said Paws and Effect claimed Harrison was overweight, and that’s why they took him.

Nearly a year later, the Essarys still don’t have their dog and they still don’t have answers — but they do have a conviction.

Paws and Effect trainer Max Garcia, who was supposed to be watching Harrison was found guilty of theft earlier this month.

Garcia testified that in December of last year, his boss, Executive Director Nicole Shumate instructed him to leave his house with the doors unlocked so someone could take the dog.

“When you left the home that day after calling Nicole, was it was your understanding that the animal was going to be returned to Ms. Essary,” said Andrew Anderson, a state attorney representing the Essary’s.

“I don’t know of any further plans,” Garcia said.

In Polk County Court, State attorneys pointed to an Iowa law allowing organizations to take back dogs they believe are in immediate danger.

That law reads, “the rescue must be made by a law enforcement officer having cause to believe that the animal is a threatened animal after consulting with a veterinarian.”

Garcia testified that he didn’t know about that law when Paws and Effect took Harrison over concerns about his weight.

A Polk County judge said that claim is “not credible and defies common sense.”

The other issue — Paws and Effect does not have legal ownership of Harrison.

Documents presented in court show Paws and Effect is not mentioned on the adoption papers.

“So nowhere in there is Paws and Effect mentioned as a party to the adoption of Harrison,” Anderson said.

“Correct,” Garcia said.

In the judge’s written guilty verdict against Max Garcia for the theft of the dog, she said, “The Court rejects the Defendant’s attempt to cloak vigilantism with his, and Paws & Effect’s, unsubstantiated and uncredible claims of concern for Harrison’s welfare.”

Garcia was sentenced to five days in jail and an $855 fine.

“I do believe they have affected a lot of people in a negative way and they probably should not continue to run their business,” Essary said.

As the Essary’s have battled Paws and Effect, other Iowans have stepped forward with similar stories.

“We were all in the same training class and we don’t have a dog right now. Any of the three of us,” Kayonna Topp said.

In a civil hearing in early November, Garcia testified that they have removed three dogs over the past year. 

Months after Harrison was taken, Kayonna Topp says Paws and Effect took her dog Kashi away, claiming the dog was overweight and they never gave her back.  

Army veteran Trevor Van Dyke said Paws and Effect told him Krumbles, a dog he was in a long-term placement with, had back issues.

In June 2020, the organization posted on Facebook that after evaluating Krumbles’ suitability to continue as a service dog, they decided to “let him retire as a pet dog before placing him.”

From that time, Krumbles was able to stay with Van Dyke.

Van Dyke said that in August 2020, he trusted a Paws and Effect employee to care for Krumbles while he was out of town, and when he came back, Krumbles was gone.

“He helped me with my PTSD, my anxiety, my depression, my mood swings, my everything. He helped me get out into the public. He was my guy,” Van Dyke said.

KCCI asked Executive Director Nicole Shumate for the vet records of all three dogs, she never replied to those requests.

These three say their lives have changed for the worse without the dogs they’ve trusted to help them with life’s daily tasks.

Van Dyke once strolled around Iowa State University’s campus with Krumbles, but said he dropped out of graduate school due to PTSD.

“My life has been set on a completely different trajectory,” Van Dyke said. “It’s been the single most devastating thing that ever happened to me.”

Topp says the loss of Kashi was nearly deadly.

“They took a dog away from me that was set up to save my life. Honestly, I was suicidal,” Topp said.

Their lifelines, in the shape of a furry friend, gone. What they have now is frustration.

“They ruined my life. They ruined his life. They ruined her daughter’s life,” Topp said.

The victims have many questions.

“Where is he at? What happened? What really happened? What’s the truth? What’s going on?” Van Dyke asked.

They also have concerns about what Paws and Effect is doing with the dogs.

“This organization has devastated the lives of several different people,” Van Dyke said.

As for the three dogs and where they are now, aFacebook post from Paws and Effect in March claims Krumbles died.

Ashley Anderson testified that Kashi is in Iowa with a Paws and Effect board member.

We still don’t know where Harrison is, and the organization won’t tell the Essarys.

Max Garcia has appealed his theft ruling and sentencing.

Amber Essary and Kayonna Topp filed complaints to the Iowa Attorney General’s office. Those complaints are still open.

KCCI reached out to Paws and Effect several times since Garcia’s conviction for a statement. They did not reply to those requests.