North Star Foundation

Rating: 4.31 stars   45 reviews

Issues:

Location: 20 Deerfield Ln Storrs CT 06268 USA

Mission: North Star Foundation was formed to help children who have developmental differences such as autism, or who must face challenges such as the loss of a parent, through the use of a specially bred and trained Assistance Dog. Our mission is to help children reach their social, emotional, and educational goals through the use of Animal-Assisted Therapy. We work with the children's existing therapists to help them incorporate their North Star dog into a child's therapeutic program. We travel to childrens' schools to present a program to their peers that promotes tolerance and understanding, as we believe there is no better way to teach tolerance than through the avenue of an Assistance Dog that is trained to help. We also work with children's families, teaching them how to use their North Star Dog to help smooth transitions and soothe anxiety for everybody on the homefront.
Write a Review
Invite people to share their experience with this nonprofit!

Promote This Nonprofit

GreatNonprofits badges allow you to raise awareness of your favorite nonprofits on your own web sites!

Review this charity on
GreatNonprofits

Community Reviews

Rating: 1 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

As a former volunteer trainer for Northstar, and I say volunteer only because I never received payment for my services as promised by Patty. It is very sad that Patty is your best friend and supporter until one questions her or corrects her misdirected attempts at training a service animal.

I'm the first to tell you it is true a service dog can create miracles in the lives of children on the autism spectrum. Northstar & Patty is NOT the agency you want to partner with. You can read in her responses to any criticism against her or Northstar the level of un-professionalism in the tone of her reply.

Northstar Dogs are pawned off to unqualified puppy trainers who end up paying for all expenses for the puppy including vet bills. Then at 12 to 14 months old they are turned over to the family with no support or training prior to the placement or post placement. Then trainers like myself are hired at half what we normally charge out of the kindness of our hearts, to be stiffed by Patty.

Another lie is that Patty does all the work she does for her families free of charge and without salary. That is a total lie! Patty pockets the majority of every dollar Northstar receives and makes countless excuses to her vendors as to why she cannot pay them on-time, if at all.

PLEASE Do your homework and think very carefully when making the decision to purchase a service dog from Norhtstar. You will not get what you are promised and will end up with a very expensive family pet.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

abolish it!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

amd180

I am an extremely honest and precise person (and am often told a very much: over trusting individual) so I beg Ms. Dobbs-Gross (Patty), do not call me liar (as you have others) as you will only be making yourself look more desperate. I have written documentation to support every aspect of my experience with the North Star Foundation.

I wrote to the Foundation to request that I be accepted to foster/ train a pup for the autistic spectrum child. Months went by-then in March I was contacted by Patty's assistant to accept a pup (standard poodle) to foster/ train. The Foundation did not vet me at all-almost sounded relieved when I said yes. There was appropriate communication - initially then things began to fall apart. I am reassured by Patty that she will communicate with the family etc. (unfortunately the family, like me was just left on our own devices).

When the pup was dropped off, he was nervous for awhile but turned out to be a very smart, brave dog and when exposed to children was a little skittish but after exposure warmed and was very tolerant. (So, I do not know of the breeding program, my experience with the pup was quite good) However, early on he became quite ill, they did not tell me about his eating habits, inhaling food was brought to a whole new level...he ate so fast he got aspiration pneumonia. This is where the problems began....I did not mind paying for food and other necessities but the vet bill came at $3500.00 (I paid) because I was told I would be reimbursed by the end of the week....first lie. Patty told me how poor the Foundation was at this time, so for payment of the vet bill I donated my stipend...did no good.

Expenses (on my part) and excuses on hers continued -

There was quite the rush to remove the pup from my care-I truly think they misjudged me and felt I would not release the pup... (I wish I had not-see email below-)

Her excuses continued...pups dying, hard to raise funds, having to pay her assistant and airfare for her assistant, my pup and possibly one other person.... (I won't wax on this-as it falls in line with the other reviews regarding lack of contact etc.) She tends to contact a person only if she needs something; how sad, a good idea gone so bad.

Here is the content of my last email (SURPRISE I STILL HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING)-next stop-most likely a lawyer...


"Hi,

On September 5th you wrote "I am attending a fundraiser on Sunday and will earmark a portion of the proceeds to go to you to reimburse * vet bill...I will be sure to stay on top of our payment schedule."

First off we never discussed a payment schedule- second what happened to the proceeds of the fundraiser?

Please do not inform me of all of the hardships of new litters and their expense, having to pay other puppy raisers (ESPECIALLY since I donated MY stipend to the Foundation) or other difficulties you or the Foundation has, as I have my own and in no small part due to the Foundation's lack of responsibility to me.

I have let you know my... I took excellent care of **the pup** - in good faith-and let him go to his new home for **the child's** sake. I feel that **the pup** was the only leverage I had in recouping my costs but did not want to punish **the child** for the Foundation's failures. Well, I see 'no good deed comes unpunished'.

Please let me know what I can expect.

Best..."

** I did not want to give identification to the child so I replaced the words**

Final amount owed: $4012.03

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Replace Ms. Gross, the Board, fiscal and marketing management

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A little

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Patty, you should not be surprised by the review written by RichL3399. I read at least two other ones along the same lines and my experience with you and North Star is similar although not quite as intense. I am surprised that you do not remove the negative ones from your site and only leave the "glowing" testimonials. If you take exception to this comment please explain your ineptness and absence of direct and on point answers to direct and on point questions. I have a number of those I could quote but it would be a waste of time. Too bad zero stars rating is not an option.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 

I am not surprised to find you agree with RichL3399, as you are one at the same poster, trying to spoil what is an amazing reputation North Star has for both safety as well as effectiveness in this emerging field. You volunteered with us to be a puppy raiser, but not out of the kindness of your heart, as most North Star puppy raisers do, but for a profit motive, as you wanted to get into training service dogs as a new career and hoped I'd help you here...I should have known this, as you were the first puppy raiser out of hundreds I've worked with to inquire if you could stay with us for several days to learn about puppy raising...when I told you this would not be necessary, as puppy raising is a relatively simple thing to do and we don't entertain overnight guests at North Star, this was the first disagreement we had, which were followed by others related to the sweet pup you were raising. You claimed this pup, North Star's Lucy, was fearful, but when we received her back we found we were right in our initial evaluation that North Star's Lucy was a sensitive dog, as all North Star dogs are, but brave enough for public access and a working role with a child; in fact, since that day that Lucy was returned she has been in our training program and did beautifully; she was just placed with a child in Texas and is doing very well in the long horned state. I wish you luck in your career, "Commonexp," but hope you stay far away from families and children, as you hurt the family you were working for by upsetting the balance of trust and forward motion that we rely on in our work. Fortunately Lucy's first family is still on our waiting list and about to be served again, this time without your participation, and I know we will be successful the next time around. Your post is full of lies, such as we deliver our pups in our basement...just look at our You Tube page and see how well we take care of our pups...look at our recent 5th generation of a a golden line we've cultivated at North Star: Molly delivered her pups in my bedroom rather than the whelping box we set up in our kitchen, as it was in the middle of a heat wave and my bedroom was the only air conditioned room in the house and I wanted Molly and the pups to be comfortable...I should send you the bill for cleaning my bedroom carpet, just so you can pay a small fine for your dishonesty, but I believe in karma and know you will receive what you have coming as you've hurt a child you were supposed to help. In my book, this is a terrible thing, and although I am not the one to make you understand this, still, I hope you read these words and open your mind just a sliver to learn how to focus on others besides yourself. Patty Dobbs Gross Executive Director North Star Foundation

Here's the link to our You Tube page to learn more about how we raise our North Star pups: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=northstarvid

Rating: 1 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I am a long time dog trainer and pet professional. I was asked by North Star to foster a dog for a family. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. I saw the web site and eagerly awaited the day I would foster the dog. I had already fostered for another agency so I couldn't wait for the training I was told I would receive for my new foster dog. After recieving my dog, I was literally alone. There was NO training, NO support, and honestly NO knowledge from Patti Gross whom I had spoken with only once. I was on my own for vet bills, dog food, even heartworm medicine. Worst of all, there was absolutely NO training for me and when I called, and called, and called, I finally was told that it would all be forthcoming. Another lie. The dog that North Star had given me was fearful and had even growled at a small child who was not even touching the dog, and when I told Patti Gross that I did not trust this dog to be placed with a child, she told me to make it work because the dog had already been "sold" to a family. I was absolutely floored! Shortly after, I met anotehr foster who was also attempting to communicate with North Star, Same story, This woman has absolutely NO CLUE how to raise or train a dog. She is the mother of an autistic child. She is not in any way even a barely competent dog trainer...she is a scam artist. The other foster home complained that the dog they had been given was also fearful and unstable and they felt that it should not be around small children. After reading a few reviews from parents, and learning that PAtti Gross breeds dogs in her basement, without even AKC papers at a bare minimum, I am even more outraged. You are breeding dogs with epilepsy, diabetes, and dysplastic hips. I was so disgusted by this experience that I have now decided to train to become a certified canine behaviorit and certified service dog trainer at a New Jersey based non-profit, that gives free service dogs, not charging families $10,000 or more, for something that is not only unstable, or downrighgt dangerous. This otehr agency does not charge parents, and does not even allow families to demean themselves by begging, I mean fundraising, so that the CEP can get a salary. And really, North Star CLAIMS to have placed only 100 dogs in 10 years? That's only 10 dogs per year. That's small potatoes. And, if the dog I fostered and the one the other family fostered are any indication of the quality of those 100 supposed service dogs Patti Gross claims to have placed, North Star is either just an inept group, or downright scammers. The non-profit I am now hoping to work with has placed hundreds and hundreds of service dogs, and has an amazing foster trainnig program, one that is taught by one of the top dog behaviorists in the country. Novel idea, a service dog actually being trained by a professional dog trainer. PLEASE do your homework and don't give ANYONE your money or your trust until you see results. North Star is not the only inept one out there either...unfortunately, many of these agencies do not even have a basic knowledge of canine behavior. And sorry Patti, being a mother of one special needs child does NOT make you an expert on anything. How much salary do you take per year from your 10 "service dogs" placed by a "team of North Star professionals"? It is so sad that so many families are being scammed by you. I wonder who really wrotethose positive reviews too, since I have not heard a single good thing about this group from a parent or foster. Please do your homework if you are looking for a service dog. Please stay away from this woman. She doesn't even return calls unless you are giving her $10,000 dollars. After that, you'll never hear from her again. So sad. So evil. Why can't I give North Star 0 stars. The minimum is still one star. They don't even deserve that.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

None

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 

Wow, I am seldom left speechless, but this review did the trick... It is just filled with lies and deliberate deception. I think I know who wrote this by certain clues this post reveals, but I refuse to enter a war of words with someone who hides behind anonymity and slander. Patty Dobbs Gross Executive Director North Star Foundation

Rating: 5 stars  

I have had the privilege of being a North Star volunteer puppy raiser for almost five years. During that time I've raised/ co-raised nine puppies.
I have been able to see first hand the amazing benefits that these puppies bring to their children and their families. Receiving a puppy from North Star provides the whole family an opportunity to work together, with North Star 's help, to make a better life for their child.

North Star believes in placing the assistance dog with the child as early as possible so that the child and puppy can form an early bond. Patty does everything possible to ensure a successful placement before, during and after the pup is placed with the family.

North Star brings people together in so many ways. Each puppy influences so many people.

North Star provides puppy raisers with the training and support necessary for a positive volunteer experience. North Star volunteers are very dedicated and work well together providing back up for each other, exhanging ideas and sometimes sharing the puppy raising.

During the past five years my mom had to go to a nursing home. I've been able to take my own North Star Therapy dog, Lola, and many of the puppies to visit. These visits provide the pups with early socialization in public and at the same time provide the nursing home residents, staff and families the pleasure of spending some time with a puppy. Lola is my constant companion and the most wonderful Therapy Dog ever!!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

watching the puppy and child for a bond.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

hope that they would have the recources to make more placements.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

attract more volunteers who are willing and able to fund raise!!

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I've learned to be a better trainer and I have become more social. I am also more aware of the hardships that famies with children with challenges must endure.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Happy!

Was this review helpful? 
1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

I have had the privilege of being a North Star volunteer puppy raiser for almost four years. During that time I've raised/ co-raised eight puppies.

Two of these dogs are working as Therapy Dogs doing nursing home visits and school visits. The other six have been placed with children with developmental disabilities.

North Star believes in placing the assistance dog with the child as early as possible so that the child and puppy can form an early bond. Whenever possible, the puppy raiser and the family work together to ensure that the puppy has the best upbringing to suit that particular child.

I've met wonderful families (in person and via email) and become more aware of the challenges they and their children face. I've been able to see first hand the positive effects a North Star dog has on the child and family right from the start.

North Star brings people together in so many ways. Each puppy influences so many people.

North Star provides puppy raisers with the training and support necessary for a positive volunteer experience. North Star volunteers are very dedicated and work well together providing back up for each other, exhanging ideas and sometimes sharing the puppy raising.

During the past four years my mom had to leave her home and go to live in a nursing home. I've been able to take the puppies to visit her. These visits provide the pups with early socialization in public and at the same time provide the nursing home residents, staff and families the pleasure of spending some time with a puppy. Bringing a puppy along makes everything better!!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing first hand how a North Star dog helps a child to communicate more easily, to develop empathy, become more social and less anxious, become more independent.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Increase the number of placements. To do this North Star will need more funding and more volunteers.

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 4 stars  

As a long time raiser of service dogs, I am very familiar with the benefit that a dog can provide to a person with disabilities. Several years ago, I came across North Star Foundation, an organization which provides service dogs to children with Autism. I have trained 3 dogs for this organization and I am continually amazed at the impact that these dogs have on the children and families. Each family has different needs and requirements but the dogs always adapt. Children that normally run off stay with the dog because of the bond that has been created and a concern as to what would happen to the dog if they wandered off. These well trained dogs not only assist in this manner but they improve the social skills of the child. Many autistic children have problems verbalizing yet by learning the dog's commands and vocalizing these commands to the dog, the child becomes more confident in their communication skills. This is a small organization but they have a huge impact on many lives not only in the United States but worldwide by serving the needs of group which are often overlooked by the larger service dog organizations.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Watching a child who wouldn't even speak in a whisper, giving commands and speaking to the dog without hesitation.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find a way for it to obtain more funding so it could help even more children.

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I am a Certified Dog Trainer hired by the North Star Foundation. I had the privilege of working with a wonderful family and their son. It was my first hands on experience with autism so I was a little nervous. More of making the little boy afraid or uncomfortable. It was amazing how much information I was given between Patty Gross and the family I worked with. My job was easy compared to the struggles this family went through on different levels. Watching as the dog, Bach, took care of the mom was a huge impact on my training experience. Bach would pick up on her needs as well as the child's.
There were two moments I specifically remember when working with Bach and his family. One was the first time the little boy made eye contact with me and hugged me. From what I gathered, it was rare and well, I appreciated being the rarity.
The second moment was when we were trying to help with the little boy's bedtime schedule. I had recommended Bach do what the little boy do, including brushing his teeth! It was during this week that the mom had spoken with me and said, "---- slept in his room for the first time since he was born." The whole night. For me, I just was ecstatic to be a part of something so BIG. We as "normal" everyday people take so much for granted and through this experience as with others, my appreciation grows. I loved being part of the therapy with this family. I loved being educated on autism and it has really helped me personally since my nephew and niece have been diagnosed in the passed year with autism.
There is a relief when I read success stories of clients matched with these dogs. The dogs are like new pair of legs or arms for physically disabled people. Meaning, it is freedom and independence. Not only for the child, but for the parents. Simple things that we take for granted are difficult for these parents and with just a simple addition of a puppy that is trained to assist... It is a huge difference. I have seen transformation in different ways and it is rewarding for me to be a part of that. The North Star Foundation is a gift to these families. I am so proud to be a part of it. To see lives change. Even mine.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

See above.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would not make any changes.

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Originally trained as a dancer & now as a nurse, I have also worked as a volunteer for St. Hubert's Paws for People program visiting children & the elderly in hospitals & nursing homes with my own dogs.

My two dogs always remind me of the unconditional love that NorthStar dogs can bring & working with puppies in their new homes has let me experience how that unconditional love can translate into a better connection for autistic children with their family & everyone else they interact with.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I will always remember the tears of happiness & surprise from a family whose autistic child, who never spoke to anyone who was not a member of his family, hugged me & thanked me for bringing him his NorthStar puppy.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Try to increase public awareness so that more families would be able to benefit.

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered with North Star through college and I had an amazing experience. Patty taught me a lot about autism and assistant dogs, and every week was a new lesson. I loved taking Angel back to the UConn campus and letting everyone see her. She was a wonderful dog. I walked dogs as a side job as well, but I looked more forward to walking Angel for free than I did walking a dog for money. Every Wednesday I would be so happy to finally go see Angel and the other pups, it literally made my week. This foundation is awesome in its objectives and in what it has accomplished. Patty is a great person who really cares and is passionate about North Star. I hope to keep ties with her for a long time to come. I know I have helped North Star by volunteering, but North Star has also helped me just the same.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the progress that Angel has made being around so many different people. The changes from week one to the last week were visible, and it was awesome to know you had a part in that. She will help gain awareness for North Star, and that is huge.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

keep on keeping on. So much progress has been made and I can see it starting to really bloom and open up to everyone. Every person is touched by autism or dogs, or both, in some way, shape or form. As long as North Star continues to move forward, I think great things are to come.

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I was asked to help teach some tricks and special behaviors to two lovely Golden Retrievers (Angel and Molly) who were bred to be placed with families with children with special needs, in particular, those on the Autism spectrum. These dogs and their foster "mom" were such a pleasure to work with, and the founder of the organization was so helpful and supportive--it made the whole experience delightful. I spent many hours working with the dogs and the foster mom, and we saw so much learning and progress on the part of the dogs. I know these dogs will be bringing so much joy and support to people...it gives me great pleasure to know I have been a small part of that process.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Observing how members of the public interact with these trained dogs. I see how people gravitate towards them, and how they bring people together.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would just see that they have the resources --funds, space, trainers, foster homes--to do the important work they are doing. There is so much need for this sort of "low-tech" but very compassionate way of re-connecting Autistic children with their family and helping them learn to communicate with the world. Dogs don't judge. They just love! We can all use a lot more of that!! And THESE dogs are super lovers!!

Was this review helpful?