Pet Peeve

Two founding members of a beleaguered animal charity have disassociated themselves from the organization.

John Teets -- former head of Dial, current boss of his own investment firm -- and his wife, Nancy, are the latest defectors from Scratch & Sniff, a nonprofit founded and operated by Susan Heywood. Three members of the organization's board of directors have already resigned this year, amidst questions over how Scratch & Sniff's money is spent ("The Big Stink," Amy Silverman, September 26).

Until their withdrawal, John and Nancy Teets had been listed as members of the "Honorary Board of Directors" of Scratch & Sniff on letterhead and other materials. Nancy Teets says neither she nor her husband ever attended a Scratch & Sniff board meeting. The two did donate more than $50,000 to the group over the past several years.

In a letter dated September 23 and addressed to Susan and her husband Bill, a longtime local radio personality and co-founder of the charity, the Teetses requested that their names "be removed from all letterhead, correspondence, and websites concerning Scratch & Sniff Foundation."

"That's just to distance ourselves from all of the mudslinging," Nancy Teets says.

"I'm glad things are coming out or being exposed, if there's anything not proper," she adds. "I don't need to be supporting salaries of people."

Teets is referring to Susan Heywood, who did not originally take a salary from Scratch & Sniff but is now paid at least $75,000, annually.

"We still want to support the animal agencies out there," Teets says. "There are some special ones that do really good work. . . . That's what's so sad, if something's awry."

The Teetses' letter is not the only correspondence buzzing along local fax lines these days. A letter dated September 27 urged friends and business associates of the Heywoods to write letters to New Times and Trends, a monthly publication based in Scottsdale, complaining about both papers' coverage of Scratch & Sniff.

The letter is directed at recipients of Scratch & Sniff grant money, and, in what could be taken as a suggestion to those who want funding in the future, says: "While your organization may have benefited with cash grants, we think it would be important and meaningful to respond to the article reference the unique niche the Scratch & Sniff Foundation has played in networking, collaboration, and informing and educating the general public concerning pets and pet therapy."

Susan Heywood did not respond to an interview request.

As of press time on October 7, New Times had not received a single letter or e-mail complaining about the story.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at