Getting a dog to help a family hit by hearing problems seemed the ideal solution.
But the good idea turned into a nightmare involving loss of money, distress and a pup plagued by problems.
And now Rachael and Mike Reynolds are warning others not to fall victim to similar schemes.
Rachael says she is mortified that money kindly donated by friends and family has been lost.
Mike said it was decided to get a service dog to help Rachael - who needs hearing aids - and three of their four children affected in similar ways.
They contacted a firm called Service Dogs Europe, based just outside Dublin and which claimed to specialise in canine assistance.
“I spoke to them a few times when we were setting this up,” said Mike, 44. “All seemed fine. But there has been no contact since and the line has gone dead.”
The Reynolds, who live in Oakes, paid £500 to reserve golden brown Cocker Spaniel Gracie and a further £1,500 when she was brought to them at three months old.
Rachael said: “She arrived in her own mess and was very distressed. The person who brought her only stayed about an hour. She had no passport and no valid vaccinations. We had to have all the jabs re-done.
“She has had tummy trouble until a couple of weeks ago and is only just on the mend. And she had had no toilet training at all.”
Mike said they were told the £2,000 they paid was part of a £7,500 training programme which would be provided later.
“It didn’t sit well with us,” he said. “They suggested a training school in Longwood which costs £40 a time. I wondered why we were paying this when we had parted with so much cash.
“There was no follow-up training as such. SDE wanted local training until Gracie was a year old and we did as they asked.”
He said people have been donating to help the family with Gracie’s costs.
“Rachael has hearing loss and has to be within two metres to lip-read,” he said. “Three of our children have similar problems. So the dog was an aid for the whole family.”
Alarm bells began to ring when Rachael wanted to change Gracie’s food in a bid to ease the pup’s tummy troubles.
“When I didn’t get a response I checked the fund-raising account we had set up and it had gone. I checked the website - gone. Called the telephone numbers - lines dead,” she said.
She looked up Service Dogs Europe on Facebook and found it had gone. But there was a new site for deleted comments about SDE. There have been many complaints from the UK about the firm.
The Examiner has been unable to contact SDE - the website has been taken down and there are no available contact numbers.
We raised the issue with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in Ireland, which oversees consumer complaints.
A spokesman said: “The Commission has received seven queries from consumers in relation to Service Dogs Europe. The Commission is reviewing the information which has been provided by consumers and is not in a position to provide any further comment at this time.”
Rachael and Mike have reported the matter to fraud officers and the office of Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.
The family still has Gracie, though, who is now six months old. “The dog is happy and we are going on with the training,” he said. “And we are keeping her. Oh yes.”