Resident Feature

Diabetic Alert Dogs Save Lives!

EAC Ricki is alerting his partner that a shift in blood glucose is impending and it’s time to take action!

For more than a decade, Early Alert Canines (EAC), located in Concord, California, has advanced its mission to improve the health, safety, and well-being of people with insulin-dependent diabetes through partnerships with certified low blood sugar alert dogs. 

Most clients have type 1 diabetes and rely upon insulin therapy to survive. While this can keep someone alive and help maintain blood glucose levels, it’s not a cure and doesn’t prevent side effects. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can result in unconsciousness, coma, or death in as few as twenty minutes. Diabetic Alert Dogs alert their partners in advance of an impending shift in blood glucose levels, allowing them time to take the necessary precautions or treatment to avoid dangerously low blood glucose levels. This provides a major relief, especially to the parents of children with diabetes, many of whom describe the helplessness and fear they experience trying to manage this life-threatening disease. 

EAC Dixie poses for a close-up on graduation day!

The success of a Diabetic Alert Dog depends upon the collaboration between EAC and the client, their medical team, and the dog. Most of the available hypoglycemia medical alert equipment relies on accurate and continuous input from the person with diabetes, which is only effective when the person is awake, alert, and thinking clearly. In addition to human and mechanical errors, many factors can mitigate the efficacy of these tools. These range from temporary inattentiveness, such as when a person is sleeping, to medical complications, such as insulin resistance or hypoglycemic unawareness. A child’s potential inability to recognize and effectively communicate blood sugar changes can be a major stumbling block for caretakers. A Diabetic Alert Dog warns their partner under most any circumstance, including waking them in the middle of the night if necessary. 

EAC specializes in the unique needs of children, teens, and families and helps their clients have the tools to be resilient and thrive, despite the adversity of managing a chronic illness. They promote a sense of family and an equitable culture that includes a diverse community where each individual feels validated, supported, and celebrated for what makes them unique. They provide ongoing training and re-certification that is crucial for long-term success. EAC is an advocate for disability rights and works to educate the community about Type 1 diabetes, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Service Dogs. Recently, EAC has partnered with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in a pilot program to train COVID-19 Medical Detection Dogs. 

You may see EAC Jolo around town! His foster lives in Danville and he is loved by many!

EAC maintains a small staff and relies upon the vital support of highly-skilled volunteers. Each dog-in-training requires the help of one or more foster homes that provide overnight care and reinforced training. EAC provides the necessary training, supplies and support for a successful partnership. Some fosters provide care for months, while others provide an occasional home. 

EAC relies on donations and sponsorship to fund its programs, believing that any client who needs their service should have access without significant barriers. Their annual spring fundraiser, Bone Appetit: A Feast for the Dogs, will be held virtually this year due to the surge in COVID cases. A fun and interactive program is planned that will be live streamed on Saturday, March 19th starting at 5:30pm PST so that anyone can join us from anywhere! Sponsorship information can be found on their website: www.EarlyAlertCanines. org. Or visit them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.

By Victoria Briskin, Early Alert Canines