My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Exceptional Sidekick Inc, Newtown, CT, USA
I trained my rescue dog, Tilly, through the owner trainer program at Exceptional Sidekick. I am fortunate enough to be one of the few clients who owns my dog. Several of my peers share partial ownership of their service dogs as they were donated from Guiding Eyes after being demoted from a seeing eye dog program. I cannot speak for others but can give unbiased views compared to my peers who are reliant on Abby and are hesitant to share theirs. I do believe that this organization and the owner, Abby Hill, started out with good intentions but could not keep up with demand. It seems as though quantity took precedence over quality and proper support was not provided. For being an organization who regularly deals with people with mental disorders, they do not compassionately or appropriately handle their interactions with clients with disabilities. The service contract over-promised and under-delivered; the program was not adaptable. I was supposed to receive 10 private one-on-one sessions but only received a handful and had to initiate scheduling them, often not talking to Abby for several months unless I reached out to her. I found the public access group classes helpful at times but as soon as my service dog passed the public access test, I was surprised to be told “You are impeding the opportunity for new handlers during the class due to large numbers”. A graduate public access class was created but no trainer was provided, with no guidance it soon ended. I have heard from several clients and agree that Abby’s public access test standards are lower than other organizations. The majority of us as responsible handlers understand the importance of holding our dogs accountable to higher standards. Due to this consensus, several of us have sought out support from other trainers. For the price that we have already paid, this is unacceptable. Unless there is major reform, I would not recommend this organization.