by Denise Carey-Costa
The Barefoot K9 Project in Homerville, Georgia, is an organization offering service dogs for veterans and disabled adults and children. It all sounds very admirable and philanthropic, however many clients who relied on the project have all been the victims of a money-making scam that has spanned two states. Now, the organization’s founder Cecil Allen Brown (aka Moose Brown) and his partner Coleen Miller are on the run.
Sheila Weaks, a resident of Lacy’s Spring, Alabama knew something was wrong when her son Samuel never got the dog that had been promised him.
Sheila heard about The Barefoot K9 on Craigslist and sent an email to them explaining Samuel’s needs and was happy when she received an immediate response. Once an application was filed, she and her son were approved. However, the Barefoot K9 Project then informed Sheila the service dog would cost $30,000.00, quite a daunting amount for a lower middle class family to try and come up with.
The Project assured Sheila they would not turn her and Samuel away although they were unable to pay. They set up a GoFundMe and RallyUp accounts to collect donations to cover the cost of the dog.
When the time came to get a dog, and start the training process, Samuel was so excited. All he could talk about was when he would meet his new friend and if he could name him.
Unfortunately, Samuel, like many others who placed their trust in The Barefoot K9 would never receive his dog.
Coleen Miller, the former director of The Barefoot K9 Project issued a very disturbing public statement by way of Facebook video. In her statement, she claimed the organization’s founder Cecil Allen Brown is unemployed and using all the money earned from the nonprofit for his personal gain.
Records of receipts further confirmed Coleen Miller’s allegations showing purchases of jewelry, handbags, and a Caribbean Vacation all paid for using money from the non-profit’s account, money that people donated to get service dogs for disabled adults and children. A statement from the bank also showed the non-profit’s account to be $1400.00 overdrawn yet they have collected over $100,000.00 in donations over the years.
Not only was money stolen from donors and families of disabled children, but dogs donated by breeders have also gone missing. According to one of the breeders, there were 40 dogs at the facility back in October 2016. As of last week, when Sheriff’s deputies went to the property there were only 7 remaining. 33 dogs are missing.
One dog named Chipella, belonging to a hearing-impaired girl named Cynthia Walker was sent to The Barefoot K9 Project to train as her service dog. Once at The Barefoot K9 Project Chipella received no training, never went to a veterinarian and had a litter of puppies that died. Now no one knows where the dog is. A reward has been offered to find Chipella and bring her home. Any information on Chipella can be called in to 910-322-9333 or 910-584-2226.
Unfortunately, people still believe in the mission of The Barefoot K9 Project and donations continue to roll into the GoFundMe and RallyUp accounts. Only the original administrator (Cecil Allen Brown) can shut down the pages. So, money is still streaming into his bank account.
Sheila Weaks attempted to contact RallyUp to shut down the page and was given this response:
We’re very happy to cooperate with requests for information from law enforcement. However, we can’t legally provide any private information to individuals that aren’t listed as an administrator on a campaign. I’m sorry that I can’t be more help to you there.
Please let me know if you have more questions, I’m happy to help however I can.
Law enforcement is conducting investigations in both Alabama and Georgia. Sheila filed a complaint with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office for the $2,000.00 she paid to The Barefoot K9 Project. Other families have reported losses up to $15,000.00.
Sheila is currently helping other families who were scammed by with filing police reports. She is working with the breeders who donated dogs to track down their missing animals. She is also trying to repay businesses, family, and friends who donated to her and Samuel.
Sheila told a WAFF 48’s news reporter “There’s a special place in hell for people who take advantage of special needs kids. And that’s exactly what he did.”
To date, Cecil Allen Brown is hiding out, possibly still in Homerville, Georgia.
WAFF 48 reached out to Cecil Allen Brown asking for comment. He has not yet responded.
About the Author
Denise Carey-Costa is a journalist, author, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. She was recently awarded the Best Producer Award from the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards for her latest film, Growing up with Hollywood (January, 2016). Her first film Tony’s Tale, Tragedy in Arizona (August 2014) was the winner of eight national film festival awards including several Audience Choice Awards. She has also written numerous children’s books promoting kindness and compassion for all creatures. Among her children’s books are A Tale of Three Tails, Edwin’s Flight, Lucky, and Angelina’s Angel. And her non-fiction piece Tony’s Tale Tragedy in Arizona. She lives in Orlando, Florida, where she works with local rescue shelters.