Families travel to Amarillo for Diabetic Alert Dogs

Laura Voges
Laura Voges
Allison Voges
Allison Voges

By Sarah Seeley

Amarillo, Texas - A local breeder is training dogs to detect and alert diabetics when their blood sugar levels are too high or too low.

Ann Pulliam trains diabetic alert dogs for families all over the country.

This week twelve families flew in from as far as Pittsburgh, Sacramento and Minnesota to train with their new canine additions.

Pulliam breeds German Shepherds and takes rescued dogs and trains them to detect ketones on the breath of the diabetic.

"It's about the dogs getting a good home and a life saver for these people," said Pulliam.  "Most of these kids have lows all night long and mothers never gets to sleep and this dog will wake them up."

9-year-old Allison Voges from California was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes two years ago.

But a recent severe diabetic seizure made her parents realize just how much she needed extra help.

"She had her first diabetic seizure around Christmas time and that really convinced us we needed to do something more for her," said Laura Voges, Allison's mom. "We had no idea what to expect and it was really scary for our family."

After researching the possibility, Allison was put on a waiting list for a diabetic alert dog.

Her parents say they chose a poodle so that other kids at school will not have any allergy problems.

Ann Pulliam trained the dog for more than six months using Allison's scent on a sock.

Now after only five days with her dog, the family says Keony can already detect abnormal levels.

"Keony has an interesting way of alerting Allison," said Laura.  "He will eat my hair if I'm high and he will either lick me or paw at me if I'm low," said Allison.

Trainers say most of the time, the alert dogs can detect a drop in levels even before the glucose monitor will.

For Allison's mom, Keony is the security she needs to help keep her daughter's levels stable.

"I can let my daughter have some independence it's a great blessing to have these dogs and I can actually sleep through the night knowing that she's going to be safe," said Laura.

There is no scientific evidence proving the dogs can detect problems, but every family here says experience say it works.

It costs about $6,000 to buy one of these specially trained dogs.

Pulliam currently has a waiting list for dogs for a January training class.