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Chester County Non-Profit Looking To Pair Service Dogs With Diabetics

By Molly Daly

COCHRANVILLE, Pa. (CBS) – A non-profit in Southern Chester County, that trains and places service dogs, has launched a pilot “diabetes alert dog” training program.

The organization is looking to recruit adults with Type 1 diabetes who live within 100 miles of Cochranville, Pennsylvania.

Canine Partners for Life provides service and companion dogs to help people with a wide range of disabilities and health conditions, including epilepsy. Seizure alert dogs innately sense and then warn people about an oncoming attack, with a nudge or a well-placed paw.

Now there’s a move to do the same for people with diabetes, but CPL Program Director Megan Eshrick says it’s a bit trickier when it comes to blood sugar.

“We need the dog not to alert at just a low in general, but at a specific point where the person can still take action,” Esherick explains. “What we’ve learned with the diabetes alert dogs is that if a person collects saliva samples, we can actually use those saliva samples to scent-train the dogs, so the dogs can be taught ‘This is what a 70 smells like.'”

Esherick stresses that candidates need to be compliant about managing their disease.

“The dogs actually are not a substitute for monitoring or complying with medical advice. Chances are somebody who has trouble following their doctor’s orders will have trouble following their dog’s orders on some level,” she explains.

Applicants who meet the criteria spelled out on the website are invited to fill out an application.

Esherick says Canine Partners expects to begin placing dogs as early as next year.

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