Archive for the ‘Animals with Jobs’ Category

K-9 Officer Robin Receives Protective Vest From the AHF

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

K-9 Officer Robin

Courtesy photo Monterey Park Police K9 Robin, with handler Agent Peter Palomino, recently received a $950 protective vest as a donation from nonprofit organizations Vested Interest in K9s Inc. and the Animal Health Foundation of Lake Forest

 

If you live in Southern California, you probably remember the story about the Monterey Park K-9 Officer Robin being stung by bees while helping to apprehend a suspect.

Thousands of people were praying that the beautiful black shepherd would survive the bee attack.  And, he did.

Officer Robin’s handler, Peter Palomino, wanted to protect his partner in other ways as well and put in a request to receive a bullet-proof vest for Robin.

The Animal Health Foundation who had partnered with another local police department to donate a vest was contacted by Vested Interest and donated a custom-made vest for K-9 Officer Robin.

 

Press Release from Monterey Park Police Dept.

On June 26, 2015, the Monterey Park Police Department’s K9 Robin was awarded a ballistic vest thanks to nonprofit organizations Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. and the Animal Health Foundation of Lake Forest, CA who provided $950 for the vest. The vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by the Animal Health Foundation.” This is the second vest to be awarded to a Monterey Park K9 this year since K9 Veeda in May.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA. whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. Each vest costs $950 and has a five year warranty. The nonprofit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four legged K9 Officers. Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 1,395 law enforcement canines in 49 states with protective vests since 2009 at a cost of over $1.3 million.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. also announces their signature tank top is now available online for a $20.00 donation at www.vik9s.org. Proceeds will provide bullet and stab protective vests, for police dogs actively working without the potentially lifesaving equipments.

The organization orders the U.S. made vests exclusively from distributor Regency Police Supply in Hyannis, MA. who also does the custom embroidery on the body armor. Vests are manufactured by Armor Express in Central Lake, MI.

New K9 graduates as well as K9s with expired vests are eligible to participate. The program is open to law enforcement dogs who are U.S. employed, certified and at least 19 months of age.

For more information regarding Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Tax deductible donations accepted via mail to: Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718 or via their website at www.vik9s.org

 

The Pasadena Star News wrote this story:

By Melissa Masatani, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

MONTEREY PARK >> A police K9 officer received a ballistic vest recently after the Monterey Park Police Department received the needed $950 in donations, officials said.

K9 Robin received the equipment June 26 from nonprofit organizations Vested Interest in K9s Inc. and the Animal Health Foundation of Lake Forest, Monterey Park police Sgt. Gus Jimenez wrote in a statement.

Vested Interest in K9s provides protective vests for $950 and offers a five-year warranty. Vests provide the law enforcement canines some protection from bullets, knife attacks and other dangers.

Robin’s vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by the Animal Health Foundation.”

This is the second such piece to be awarded to a Monterey Park K9 this year. K9 Veeda received one in May.

 

AHF Donates Vest to K-9 Officer Prinz

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Board Members Dr. Glassberg, Jan Vincent, Dr. Johnson and Jennifer Dentino meet Officers Baclit and Prinz

Board Members Dr. Glassberg, Jan Vincent, Dr. Johnson and Jennifer Dentino meet Officers Baclit and Prinz

Officers Baclit and Prinz

Officers Baclit and Prinz

AHF Donates Vest for La Habra’s Police Dog, Prinz.

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Prinz Police Dog

Prinz, one of La Habra’s two police dogs, will soon be much safer while on duty, thanks to a new ballistic vest that will protect him from potential stabbings or bullet wounds.

The vest, valued at $950, was awarded to Prinz by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s Inc. and the Animal Health Foundation, a charitable organization located in Lake Forest.

“Prinz is just like a member of my family,” said his handler, La Habra Police Cpl. Nick Baclit. “I’m thankful that he will now be safer, when he is deployed in dangerous situations.”

Prinz is part of two K-9 teams at the La Habra Police Department. Each team is comprised of an officer and a police dog assigned to the patrol division where they are deployed to conduct area, perimeter, and building searches.

These highly trained dogs assist the officers in performing their duties in a safe manner, by alerting on the areas where suspects have concealed themselves in an attempt to evade capture.

Recently, there have been several high-profile cases where police dogs have been shot in the line of duty. The most famous is the Anaheim K-9, Bruno, who was shot and injured last March.

And on Sunday, Reiko, a police dog with the West Covina police force, was shot and injured during a standoff with a gunman. Bruno has since fully recovered and Reiko is expected to do the same.

The nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with providing this potentially life-saving body armor for their four-legged officers.

Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has, since 2009, provided more than 1,125 law enforcement dogs in 40 states with protective vests at a cost of more than $1 million.

The Animal Health Foundation is committed to improving the health and welfare of animals by supporting and promoting charitable, scientific, literary and educational activities.

How dogs protect humans from illness

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Dogs’ superior sense of smell allows them to detect compounds secreted through human pores that signal health problems such as low blood sugar or an impending seizure. Diane Papazian is grateful to her Doberman pinscher, Troy, whose incessant nudging at her left side led her to find a breast lump that was malignant. “Dogs are a wonderful part of the development of new technologies,” says veterinarian Cindy Otto, executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. “Their incredible sense of smell allows them to detect very low concentrations of odors and also pick out specific odors from a tapestry of smells that can confuse standard technology.” Philly.com (Philadelphia)

KIM CAMPBELL THORNTON
Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014, 3:01 AM

 DIANE PAPAZIAN was allergic to dogs and she didn’t especially want a second one, but her husband, Harry, persuaded her to let him purchase Troy, a 3-month-old Doberman pinscher. Not long afterward, Troy was in bed with the couple one evening and began insistently nuzzling Diane’s left side. It caused her to start itching, and that’s when she discovered the lump in her breast. It turned out to be malignant, but Diane is now cancer-free after a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.

The Papazians credit Troy with saving Diane’s life. And he’s not the only pet who has helped owners make such a discovery. A number of dogs and cats have alerted their people not only to various cancers and dangerous infections, but also to oncoming seizures, allergic reactions and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Our dogs and cats may not have been to medical school, but their superior senses of smell, as well as their habit of closely observing us 24/7, put them in the catbird seat when it comes to recognizing that something in our bodies has changed, even if we’re not always sure what they’re trying to tell us.

Scientific studies have confirmed the canine ability to sniff out lung, breast, bladder, prostate, colorectal and ovarian cancer, in some cases before it’s obvious through testing. They do this by taking a whiff of urine or breath samples from patients. Dogs have also been trained to alert people to oncoming epileptic seizures and assist them to a safe place until the seizure is over.

What’s their secret? Dogs and cats live in a world of smells, and their olfactory sense is far more acute than our own. Physiological changes such as lowered blood sugar or the presence of cancer produce or change volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted through the pores of the skin. Animals smell the difference and respond to it by licking, poking or pawing at the area.

Your doctor won’t be sending you out for a “Lab test” or “CAT scan” any time soon, but scientists are working to determine the exact compounds that dogs are scenting, with the goal of developing an electronic “nose” that could detect cancer

“Dogs are a wonderful part of the development of new technologies,” says Cindy Otto, DVM, Ph.D., executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, in Philadelphia. “Their incredible sense of smell allows them to detect very low concentrations of odors and also pick out specific odors from a tapestry of smells that can confuse standard technology. Unlike some of the other members of the animal kingdom with a highly developed sense of smell, dogs are also willing collaborators in our work.”

Read more at https://www.philly.com/philly/living/pets/20140427_Now__dogs_will_teach_you_to_heal.html#ZRUbuBu4pfE0YScA.99

Read more at https://www.philly.com/philly/living/pets/20140427_Now__dogs_will_teach_you_to_heal.html#ZRUbuBu4pfE0YScA.99

Service dog recovering after surgery; veteran anxiously awaiting her return

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

CTService dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and one pint-sized Chihuahua mix is deeply missed by her owner as she convalesces at Integrative Pet Care in Homer Glen, Ill., after back surgery. The dog, named Belle, developed a spinal disc extrusion that left her hind legs paralyzed on Thanksgiving, but she is slowly regaining the use of her legs after surgery. Her owner, Vietnam veteran Gary Jordan, says he misses Belle and hopes to have her home soon because she comforts him and helps him relate better to people. Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model)

By Taylor W. Anderson, Chicago Tribune reporterJanuary 15, 2014

Vietnam veteran Gary Jordan is missing one of his most important troops: she’s a 3-year-old Chihuahua mix named Belle who’s trained to help him deal with his severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

The 69-year-old is coping while Belle — a service dog trained through a Chicago non-profit that since 2010 has paired dogs with vets with post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related brain injuries — rehabilitates from a spine injury that paralyzed her on Thanksgiving Day.

“How am I doing without her? Not well,” Jordan said. “Because she’s my service dog, and we’ve been with each other since February.”

Jordan has been driving several times a week from his apartment in Markham to Integrative Pet Care in Homer Glen to see Belle, who is learning to use her back legs again at the clinic after surgery. Typically, the two spend every moment of every day together.

Jordan and Belle are a team put together by War Dogs Making It Home, a charity that rescues dogs from animal shelters and matches them with veterans who need help.

“We save two lives at a time: one dog and one veteran,” said Eva Braverman, the agency’s president.

The dogs are trained to sense when its owner is stressed and comfort them.

Braverman said Jordan called her on Thanksgiving when she was cooking dinner for her family to tell her Belle wasn’t well. One of the dog’s spinal discs was extruding, and she became paralyzed. “I literally put $4,000 on two different credit cards to pay for the surgery,” she said.

Jordan is one of about 25 teams in the War Dogs program, where veterans bring their companions for training twice weekly for the first year and once a week the second. Veterans in the program have served in almost every major foreign combat since Vietnam, Braverman said. She said about half of the owners are Vietnam veterans.

The dogs learn the behavior of their veterans, moving into action when vets show signs of anger or stress. “I have to tell her, ‘Belle, I’m all right,'” Jordan said. “If it doesn’t look like it to her, she’ll just stay there (in my arms). She don’t leave.”

Dr. Amber Ihrke works at Integrative Pet Care in Homer Glen, where Belle has been resting after her surgery. The site, which opened in 2013, is the third in the group, which also has locations in Chicago and Hanover Park.

“In three weeks, she’s gone from essentially paralyzed to walking around the room,” Ihrke said as Belle tried to stand on her hind legs in an IPC room in Homer Glen.

Jordan chokes back tears while getting ready to see Belle again. Doctors say they want Belle to get back to Jordan’s home so the two can help each other, but she still has a ways to go before being able to jump into Jordan’s arms.

“She helps me stay calm where I can actually deal with people better,” Jordan said. “It just helps me be more grounded.”

Integrative Pet Care is hosting an open house Feb. 8 to showcase the new partnership with War Dogs.

twanderson@tribune.com | Twitter: @TaylorWAnderson

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

NYPD’s canine corps grows by leaps and bounds

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Police DogThe New York City Police Department increased its canine force from 60 to more than 100 dogs in the past decade, and the animals are part of the department’s bomb squad, Transit Bureau, narcotics unit and Emergency Service Unit. The department’s German shepherds can be equipped with cameras to relay information, and they live with their handlers. Daily News (New York)

The NYPD is going to the dogs.

The department has slashed the number of officers by 17% over the past 12 years, but its force of crimefighting canines has nearly doubled over that same period.

“The K-9 units have expanded, especially over the last five years or so, and there are no plans to stop that,” said police spokesman Detective Martin Speechley.

He declined to give the exact number of pooch protectors on the force, citing security concerns.

There are over a hundred police dogs serving in different NYPD agencies, a source says.

But more than 100 dogs now work in the Transit Bureau, narcotics, the bomb squad and Emergency Service Unit, according to sources. That’s up from about 60 a decade ago.

The growing furry force is part of a larger law-enforcement trend nationwide and in the military.

Many of the NYPD’s German shepherds can carry cameras on their backs to check out suspicious packages or give officers an inside view of a hostage standoff.

The dogs all come from Eastern Europe when they are between 18 months and 2 years old.

“That’s the perfect time to see if they have any psychological issues, and it’s early enough for us to train them,” Speechley said.

As for officer staffing, the NYPD has dropped from its high of 41,000 at the end of the Giuliani administration to approximately 34,000 today.

The starting pay for police officers is $41,975, which rises to $76,488 after 5½ years.

But it only costs about $1,000 to feed each dog annually.

And the NYPD wants to cut that expense too.

Earlier this month, the department began to look for a new wholesale food provider, records show.

Last year, the NYPD used $100,000 in federal grants to buy two kennel trucks equipped with spacious spots for dogs to hang out during an extended tour.

The dog’s handlers bring them home at the end of each shift. And adopt them upon retirement when they get too old to patrol.

The NYPD isn’t the only local agency with an expanding K-9 force.

The MTA’s police canine unit is one of the largest in the U.S., with 50 dogs in active duty patrolling the LIRR, Metro-North and Staten Island Railway stations.

The pooches are not immune to the dangers of the job.

In June, NYPD police dog Bear required surgery for fractured teeth after a wild subway brawler booted him in the mouth.

The injury occurred as the courageous dog came to the aid of a fellow officer trying to break up a fight among four women at the 4 line station at E. 59th St. and Lexington Ave.

rblau@nydailynews.com

Dogs trained to detect human cancers using scent

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Dogs have been trained to use their noses to detect human cancers including lung and ovarian cancer with reliability, and one U.K. organization is training dogs to detect bladder cancer by sniffing urine samples. Dogs have a keen sense of smell thanks to their abundant olfactory cells, and since they can communicate with humans better than animals such as mice, they are useful for detecting cancers, said veterinarian Cynthia Otto, director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. CBS News

A dog’s sense of smell might be one of his or her best, innate abilities. And an increasing number of researchers are using that nose to help humans detect cancer.

Claire Guest of Berkshire, England runs a charity called “Medical Detection Dogs”that trains dogs how to detect cancer. One project involves teaching animals how to find out which patients have bladder cancer using only urine samples.

Guest’s connection to the project is a personal one. She was letting her dogs out one day when Daisy started jumping and nuzzling her head on Guest’s chest. She went to the doctor, and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Without any question I would not be as well and perhaps alive today had Daisy not drawn my attention to it,” she told CBS News’ Alphonso Marsh.

Dogs trained to detect ovarian cancer have 90 percent accuracy rate

The science of dogs sniffing out cancer is emerging. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center are currentlytraining three dogs how to smell ovarian cancer in different samples.

“Mice can do a better job at sniffing out things (than dogs),” Dr. Cynthia Otto, director of the Working Dog Center and associate professor of critical care at Penn Vet, previously told CBSNews.com. “But, there is an ability to communicate between a dog and a human so they can tell us what they are finding.”

Dogs are also up to the task because they have a larger number of olfactory or smell sensors than humans do, Otto explained. In addition, the area of the forebrain that processes smell information is larger than a human’s.

Additional studies of dogs detecting cancer include a 2011 German paper that showed that dogs were able to detect people with lung cancer with 71 percent accuracy, and correctly distinguish people without lung cancer in 93 percent of the cases. Another West Hills, Calif. trainer is working with researchers to teach dogs how to detect ovarian cancer using breath samples.

Scientists are also trying to come up with technology that mimics the dogs’ natural abilities. Some companies are making electronic “noses” that can pick up on these cancer smells.

Researchers are also testing a “mechanical dog” that sniff’s a patient’s breath to tell if they have cancer markers. They hope that if all tests continue to go well the tool could be used to diagnose cancer within five years.

Service dog brings aid and friendship to girl with debilitating bone disease

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Service Dog for AniceeTen-year-old Anicee Lamoreaux has already had 100 broken bones due to osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, but that’s not stifling her excitement over her new service dog, Pearl. Pearl hasn’t completed her training yet, but once she does, she’ll be the newest Lamoreaux family member, responsible for helping Anicee perform daily tasks. But more importantly, Pearl will be the friend Anicee needs. Anicee’s parents, both of whom also have osteogenesis imperfecta, are raising money to help cover the $10,000 cost for Pearl and her training. Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)

They’ve only known each other a few short weeks, but Anicee and Pearl are already partners in crime.

Pearl, a 14-week-old labradoodle, has a fluffy puppy-dog face anyone would love. But she is loved most of all by her 10-year-old owner, Anicee Lamoreaux, who is raising money to keep Pearl as her personal service dog.

Anicee, a fifth-grader at Birch Elementary, has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. The condition means Anicee can break a bone simply by coughing or sneezing too hard.

Anicee uses a specialized wheelchair to get around, and Pearl will be a valuable partner who can help her open doors, help with errands and bring her medication or other essential items.

Most of all, Pearl also will be Anicee’s constant companion.

“I’ll have a buddy to spend time with,” she said, feeding treats to her pet in her living room Thursday. “I don’t have that many friends, so I’ll have a friend who will be with me every day, hour, minute.”

Anicee was adopted from Belize in 2010 by her parents, Chris Lamoreaux and Lisa Ferrerio. Both parents also have osteogenesis imperfecta and said they wanted to adopt a child who had a similar condition.

“We knew how much we could offer her,” Ferrerio said. “We know exactly what it’s like to go through surgery or be talked about in school.”

Anicee’s parents also wanted her to have extra help, but the cost of service animals can be overwhelming, especially on top of other medical bills.

The family and their friends are organizing several fundraisers to help cover the estimated $10,000 annual cost to provide Pearl’s specialized training.

As a service dog, she must undergo many hours of training that will familiarize her with Anicee’s specialized care.

That’s worth it for Ferrerio, who remembers the companionship and warmth of her own service dog, Kosmo. Ferrerio had Kosmo when she was a teenager.

When Ferrerio’s longtime friend, dog trainer Ana Melara, came across Pearl, she knew the puppy would be a good fit for the family because of her low-key, gentle temperament. Melara is in charge of much of Pearl’s service dog training.

“She’s just such a sweet dog,” she said.

When Anicee met her dog for the first time, she said she couldn’t contain her excitement.

“I was jumping up and down. I could have broken the wall,” she said with a smile. “I wish I could take her for the whole day.”

Pearl isn’t a permanent resident at Anicee’s house yet, though. Melara is in charge of training the puppy in all the basics, and it could take up to two years before Anicee and her dog become permanent companions. Right now, Anicee and Pearl hang out about twice a week.

 

Help Anicee and PearlBirch Elementary School student Anicee Lamoreaux is raising money to train her service dog, Pearl.

An art silent auction, featuring art by Anicee, will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 26 at Pearl’s training center, Training with Grace, 9100 W. Sixth Ave. in Lakewood. For more information, go to facebook.comand search “Anicee and Pearl” for updates and other fundraising opportunities.

To learn more about Anicee’s fundraisers or to donate money to help train Pearl, visithttps://aniceefunds.com.

Ferrerio said the training will help make sure Pearl is the right dog for her daughter, who has experienced about 100 broken bones in her short 10 years. Anicee also has undergone three major surgeries to help strengthen her spine and legs, and she hopes to have Pearl nearby when she undergoes another surgery on her arms sometime next year.

“Pearl will be so important in Anicee’s life,” Ferrerio said. “We’ll need her to be Anicee’s arms and legs, and we need to know that Pearl won’t bolt when she sees something like a squirrel or duck — that would break Anicee’s arm.”

So far, Anicee and Pearl are already fast friends. Anicee can’t wait to introduce her dog to her fifth-grade class and take her dog on the playground.

Her dad said he’s happy Anicee is getting the opportunity. In Belize, she didn’t have the same medical opportunities or the chance to have a service dog.

“Here, she has the medical accessibility she needs,” he said.

Anicee’s grandmother, Diane Holstein, said Pearl will bridge the gap between her granddaughter and her peers. Right now, kids don’t always know how to interact with Anicee, but Pearl’s presence will give them a way to talk and ask questions, she said.

“People will see Anicee at King Soopers, the library, out in the community, and Pearl will help people get to know her,” she said

Children with autism improve communication using horses and iPads

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

New is meeting old as iPads and horses have been incorporated into a new approach to helping children with autism communicate. In the program, called Strides, the children ride horses and also learn speech and language skills using applications on their iPads. The combination has helped unlock new ways for the kids and their families to communicate, with parents reporting their first-ever two-way conversations with their children. Yahoo/Asian News International

Washington, Sept 15 (ANI): A new study has revealed that children with autism can improve their verbal communications skills with the help of horses and iPads.

Southern Tier Alternative Therapies, Inc. (STAT), together withTina Caswell, a clinical faculty member in Ithaca College’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, has combined equine therapy and assistive technology through an exclusive program called Strides.

The Strides program puts children on horseback and gives each family iPads equipped with speech-generating applications.

Caswell and her team of Ithaca College graduate students provide intensive, highly customized training and ongoing support. The unique therapeutic approach has helped children reach significant breakthroughs in communication, both verbally and through effective use of the device.

Caswell said that it’s the first time the children have been on horseback, the first time many of them are using iPads with speech software, and more important, the first time they’ve had any kind of access to self-expression.

She said that parents also told her that it’s the first time they’ve been able to have a two-way conversation with their kids.

The researchers found that children are doing more than requesting food and toys and for the first time, they are telling narratives and sharing feelings.

Each child participating in the program is given an iPad to be used as a speech-generating device. Participants and their parents are then trained by the Strides team and the Ithaca College students and faculty to continuously update new communication opportunities on their devices. (ANI)

Diabetes alert dog brings comfort, relief to boy and his family

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Diabetic Alert DogsKermit, a 2-year-old service dog trained to detect fluctuations in human blood sugar levels, helps 9-year-old Kiernan Sullivan monitor his type 1 diabetes, giving Kiernan’s parents some extra relief. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to problems such as neuropathy, limb loss and even blindness, so specially trained dogs, along with tools such as glucose monitors that help keep blood sugar levels within the normal range, can improve the quality of diabetes patients’ lives, said physician Andrew Ahmann. The Oregonian (Portland)

When 9-year-old Kiernan Sullivan started school this month, he attends each class in the company of his new best friend – a 2-year-old service dog named Kermit.

“It’s fun but hard,” Kiernan says of his new charge. “You have to feed him, take him out to bathroom and take him out for walks.”

Kiernan has Type 1 diabetes, which usually affects children and young adults and accounts for about 5 percent of all diabetes cases. It occurs when the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert starches, sugars and other food into energy.

Kiernan, who was diagnosed when he was six, experienced a grand mal seizure in November. The experience was scary, but his parents thought they could manage Kiernan’s disease with careful meal planning and regular insulin shots.

Then one Saturday morning in March, Kiernan’s mom, Michelle Sullivan, awoke to a horrifying scene.

Her husband, Stuart, had left early that morning to go grocery shopping so the family could do something together. He kissed her goodbye and closed the bedroom door so she could sleep in a bit.

She awoke to her husband’s terrified screams as he came home to find their son lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. Kiernan had wandered into the kitchen to find some sugary food to bolster his blood sugar but found only sugar-free licorice. Bright red licorice was still smeared on his face when his parents found him.

The Sullivans realized they needed help. Thanks to the help of a staff member at Kiernan’s school, City View Charter School in Hillsboro, they found out about Dogs Assisting Diabetics.

About Dogs Assisting Diabetics

The Forest Grove-based nonprofit was founded by dog trainer Kristin Tarnowski and Darlene LaRose Cain, a former national chair for the American Diabetes Association.

Since the organization launched in 2009, Tarnowski has trained more than 35 dogs to be service-alert dogs.

The dogs initially came from breeders, but Tarnowski recently started her own breeding program with registered Labrador retrievers so she can start training them as puppies.

(Kermit came from the Guide Dogs for the Blind breeding program but failed his final test).

The training process can take at least six months to one year.

To train the dogs, Tarnowski places a swab of sweat collected from a diabetic person whose glucose levels are high or low and puts it in a sealed vial.

When the dog approaches the vial and reacts to it, she rewards them with treats and affection.

“We’re getting the dog to think of it as a game and have fun of it,” Tarnowski says. “The dog gets excited and wants to keep looking for it.”

The dogs can smell a metabolic change that takes place when someone’s blood sugar changes, although researchers still aren’t sure exactly what the dogs detect.

The dogs cost $15,000 and are in high demand. Each year, Dogs Assisting Diabetics receives about 200 requests from people all over the world.

Priority goes to people who have a high medical need for the dog, such as those whose blood-sugar levels are high enough to require dialysis.

How it works

When Kiernan’s blood sugar levels veer away from normal levels – below 80 or above 180 milligrams per deciliter – Kermit alerts him in one of three ways.

The dog will paw at the boy’s leg or chew on an orange strip on his leash called a “brain cell.”

Kermit continues to alert until Kiernan acknowledges him with a treat. Then he can check his blood-sugar levels and treat them accordingly.

Because Kiernan’s blood sugar levels fluctuate so frequently, the family decided against a Continuous Glucose Monitor that alerts during changes in glucose levels, Michelle Sullivan says.

The monitor’s frequent sensors can become a nuisance for someone like Kiernan, who can drop from a normal blood sugar level down to 50 mg/dL after walking just a few blocks.

Properly trained service dogs can offer great value to people with diabetes, says Dr. Andrew Ahmann, director of the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at Oregon Health & Science University.

“I have no doubt that they can alert individuals who have low blood sugar at a time when the person themselves does not recognize the problem,” he says.

Since Kermit alerts Kiernan as soon as his blood sugar changes, he’ll know to check the levels sooner. He has less risk of reaching the dangerous highs or lows that can send him into a seizure.

Over time, that careful monitoring can help bring three-month blood sugar averages, called A1Cs, closer to normal range.

“That’s adding time to their life,” Tarnowski says. “High blood sugars contribute to blindness, limb loss or neuropathy.”

According to one study, one in 20 children will die in their sleep from low blood sugar levels.

Yet Ahmann cautions that little research is available that proves the dogs’ effectiveness in preventing severe hypoglycemia or in improving overall glucose control.

The dogs should never replace the use of blood sugar testing meters that provide accurate readings, he says.

“I don’t think the use of diabetic assistance dogs is a replacement for continue glucose monitoring or intermittent glucose monitoring,” Ahmann says, “but the dogs do provide another layer of security that is very important to kids and their families.”

For Kiernan’s mom, that furry security blanket is priceless.

“I know that Kermit isn’t 100 percent, but he’s at least given me an extra level, just an extra step of assurance,” she says. “I hope that Kiernan doesn’t have another seizure, but Kermit is just an extra layer of protection.”

If you want to help: The Sullivan family is struggling to pay for Kermit, who costs $15,000. So far, the family has paid $5,000 and is on a payment plan for the remaining amount.

The family has established a fundraising page on Youcaring.com called “Help Kiernan Bring Kermit home” that allows people to donate to his cause.

You can also donate to Dogs Assisting Diabetics at dogsassistingdiabetics.com.