Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 of a four-part investigative series into The Barefoot K9 Project, a former nonprofit.
HOMERVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - A former South Georgia non-profit was ordered to cease and desist operations by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office after an investigation by the Securities and Charities Division.
The nonprofit was incorporated with the state in 2016 by Cecil Allen Brown, Colleen Miller and her son Dalton Miller.
According to the cease and desist, the Barefoot K9 Project (BFK9) “engaged in fraudulent activity,” “falsely represented that it provided highly trained service dogs to disabled individuals” and “represented that ‘all proceeds would go to training costs when almost all proceeds were used to pay for the living expenses of Brown and Colleen Miller.”
WALB was able to get Colleen Miller on the phone back in January.
At the time, she committed to doing an interview; however, WALB has spoken with her on the phone multiple times since then, and she has not engaged in an interview.
On the first phone call, Miller explained her and her son’s experience with the project and Brown.
Miller said she took a job with Brown through Craigslist, and that he told her he was handicapped and needed a personal assistant to help manage his home business.
Miller said she was under the impression Brown was already running the nonprofit and had already placed dogs with clients.
Miller explained that some money donated to the project did go to build kennels and pay for some day-to-day care for the dogs.
However, she said as far as trained service dogs went, no dogs were placed with any clients while she was there.
She said that one day she found a receipt for a $3,000 vacation package in Brown’s home. She said the last four digits for the card used to pay for the vacation package were the same last four digits for the nonprofit’s bank account.
Miller said she then decided to “out” Brown on Facebook live.
Miller admitted she was romantically involved with Brown, but the relationship ended because she said she eventually saw him for who he was.
She claimed that Brown threatened her, and tried to pay her off to leave and shut up.
Miller said before she moved away from Homerville, she gave as much information to a private investigator as she could.
She also said the FBI called her asking for information, and she pointed them toward the P.I.
Cease and desist: Brown also deceived people who donated dogs to become service animals
The cease and desist mentioned two people, including one breeder, who donated dogs to BFK9 under the belief that they would become service dogs.
“All but one of the donated dogs were allegedly sold by Brown,” the cease and desist said.
A German shepherd breeder from Virginia told WALB she lost thousands of dollars when she donated six pure-bred German shepherd puppies to the Barefoot K9 Project, because she would have sold them otherwise.
Dee Brown, who is unrelated to Cecil Allen Brown, said she does not know where most of the dogs are or if they are okay.
“He and Colleen would come up to Virginia,” Dee said of the original arrangements she made with BFK9. “They would come up and pick the dogs up.”
When they picked the puppies up, she said nothing seemed weird or off.
“They had a van with Barefoot K9 Project on it, and they had crates and everything,” she said. “It looked like a legitimate service.”
Dee and several clients’ families eventually got suspicious.
Dee said she became concerned about the welfare of the six puppies she donated.
At one point, Dee said Brown told her one of the dogs she donated to BFK9 died after being bitten by a rattlesnake. Dee said she asked Brown to have a necropsy done on the dog to find out for sure how it died.
“He said, ‘oh, well the dog’s already been buried.’ I said, ‘go dig the dog up. Have a necropsy and let me pay for it.’ And of course, that never happened,” Dee said.
Dee said Colleen Miller told her a different story about the dog’s death.
“She told me the dog had actually hung himself in an accident trying to climb a kennel,” Dee said.
At that time, Dee said she decided she had no other option but to get the other dogs off the farm. Dee said Miller told her she was moving to Pennsylvania, and that she would bring Dee’s dogs to her in Virginia on the way.
Thursday on WALB News 10 at 6 p.m., WALB digs into the red flags that led to an investigation by the Georgia Office of the Secretary of State’s Securities and Charities Division, plus where those investigators say $60,000 donated to the nonprofit was spent.