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Diabetic service dogs: a niche worth filling

Posted Aug 25 2008 6:22pm 4 Comments
Earlier this afternoon, I received an email with a news article about some research being conducted at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university researchers are gathering scientific data to see whether dogs can be used to detect dangerous blood sugar levels in diabetics. The article noted that there were only anecdotal reports reporting that dogs can detect this.

Spurred by this idea, which had never previously occurred to me, I did a little web research to investigate.

Did you know that there are already organizations placing dogs with Type I diabetics to detect hypoglycemia.?

The first one I found was

Dogs for Diabetics,

A California non-profit that places diabetic service dogs with people who have only Type I diabetes. The organization, originally called The Armstrong Project, has been in existence for almost seven years. Armstrong was the name of the first dog the service trained for this specialized task. Armstrong was obtained from

Guide Dogs for the Blind

(GDB), a long-established guide dog school in San Rafael, California. Today, most of their dogs are primarily obtained from GDB, with a couple of other agencies contributing as well.

From their web site, here’s what Dogs for Diabetics offers:

• Training and certifying dogs for hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) medical alert.

• Studying and developing training protocols for the Dogs4Diabetics program.

• Training diabetic youth and adults for the proper use and care of our dogs.

• Qualifying diabetic youth and adults for placement and service of our dogs.

• Placement follow-up services.

• Educating the businesses, organizations, and the public to the uses and rights of certified Dogs for Diabetics medical alert dogs.

Additionally, I also found

Heaven Scent Paws,

another agency specifically offering service dogs for diabetics.

If you want to understand what motivates somebody to start a service like this, check out

The story behind Heaven Scent Paws.

It is a parent’s tale of true passion, motivated by fear and love, looking for direction and answers in a world where very few existed.

Finally, there is this story of one teacher’s pairing with her diabetic assistance dog, obtained through the

Great Plains Assistance Dog Foundation,

Located in Jud, North Dakota.

The number of these particular service dogs across the U.S. is low in comparison to other types of trained service dogs, according to the executive director of the Great Plains Assistance Dog Foundation in that article. However , he predicts that number will rise as word of this invaluable service gets around.

I feel certain that it will.
Comments (4)
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hi, i have an 8 yr old tpye one d daughter.  we are training an alert dog for her right now.  it is truly amazing to watch these animals work.  our pup is only 9 weeks old but is already recognizing her high scent and knows he needs to be with ehr while she tests.  we are working with pawsibilities unleashed in kentucky.  we live in so cal.  dogs 4 d is awesome too.  i would stay away from hsp though.  many of their dogs are not turning out well.  NOt service animal material.  and many with no scent traing at all!  many traumatic stories there.  watch out.  they are being investigated by the missouri attorney general.  betheden kennels is great 2.  just having the dog has helped my childs anxiety and thus her numbers are better.  it will be a few months before he is alerting consistantly but you can already see what he can do.  i think dogs are a great service and tool for diabetics.
I bought a DAD from Betheden Kennels in 2009 that never alerted consistently.  They will not remediate and only want me to return the dog for a refund or replacement.  But here's the thing...others have returned dogs that did not work properly and no money ha been refunded to anyone.  Plus I have invested much time and money into trying to train my dog.  Sadly he does not have the temperament for this work, as Betheden should have known if they screened their dogs...but he is NOW a well trained and very lovable dog.  If I return him Betheden gets a better tarined dog than they sold me which they will resell, and I will not get my money back.  Not to mention my additional investment.  Beyond that, I have no confidence they could replace the dog with one that is any better trained than the one they initially sold me...the one they have admitted since selling him to me, should have been no more than a pet (So WHY did they present him to me and sell him as a trained service dog??!!)  Many of the DADs they have placed have serious problems...biting, not house broken, poor obedience, no or inconsistent alerts, bad temperaments...In fact, no one at Betheden is a dog trainer at all.  They were truck drivers and, well,  performed services for the public until a few years ago.  Ask them for certificates of their own training, evidence of schools or seminars, methods of training, training plans, references...any proof they know how to be dog tariners.  You'll get nothing.  They are just people who have been around animals before in their lives.  Others in the business sector have been burned by them too.  Ask AlphTex Kennels for a personal or business reference for Betheden Kennels...BEWARE.  Betheden Kennels has a history of dishonest business practice and are placing poorly trained DADs that ar risking lives.  BE CAREFUL.  Don't buy a DAD from Betheden.  You will be sorry!!!

On August 4, 2010 complaints were heard in Randall County Texas, Precinct 1, small claims court  against defendants Ann and Oscar Pulliam d/b/a/ Betheden Kennels.  The defendants requested a jury trial.  Testimony and evidence was presented to the 6 member jury.  Plaintiffs prevailed and monetary damages were awarded.  Defendants chose not appeal the decision but have communicated their intent, through their attorney, to avoid satisfying the judgment.  In writing they have refused ‘to pay a dime’; stated they will move back to Texas to qualify their property there as their “homestead”; and have threatened to file bankruptcy if action is taken by plaintiffs to collect the judgment.  More cases against the defendant have been filed in small claims court.  Complaints have also been filed with the Oklahoma Attorney General. 


On a separate note, a decision has been entered in favor of plaintiffs in the case of State of Missouri –vs- Heaven Scent Paws, Inc.  Complaints in that case are strikingly similar to complaints heard and upheld by the Texas jury against Betheden Kennels.  Indeed, in testimony in the small claims case against Betheden Kennels, a witness quoted Ann Pulliam as stating that Michelle Rinkemeyer – the owner of Heaven Scent Paws  - had the right idea about how to train and sell diabetic alert dogs much more quickly than other kennels.


Original court filing against Heaven Scent Paws can be found at:

No you won't. You probably don't understand that a DAD is a lifetime commitment of training and work. They are dogs and as such can't be expected to be trainded for life, it's ongoing. If you don't consistently work with your dog and keep them working you only have yourself to blame, not the dog, kennel or trainer.  If you don't have more animal sense than that you should not have invested in dog.
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