Service Dog

A diabetic alert dog is a type of medical service dog that has been trained to respond to scent samples that are then transferred to actually alert the recipients of low or high blood sugar levels.

At Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, we have a low number and a high number that we collect swabs from the recipient and train the dog to hit on.

Do Diabetic Alert Dogs Really Work?

Yes, their extensive training greatly helps a recipient because a lot of times, people can have a severe sugar dip in the middle of the night that can cause them to go into a coma. Everyone else in the household is asleep, and the recipient, of course, doesn’t realize they are going into it either, so the medical service dog can alert to it at critical times so the recipient can take their medication.

They work just as well as someone who has to wear a box or alarm that goes off when their blood sugar is low. Someone who is hard of hearing or asleep may not hear that alarm, but the dog will continue to persist. Not only does the dog hit on the number it is asked to, we usually expect them to hit 90% of the time, but we typically see them hit 100% of the time.

It’s really vital to the work that the dogs do. There are a lot of things that dogs can do that medical technology can not duplicate. They do, of course, have different tests to test your blood sugar, but the dogs will hit on it every time.

How Expensive is a Diabetic Alert Dog?

It depends on who you are going through to get a dog. It’s important to keep in mind that there is a big difference between just having an alert dog and having a service dog. An alert dog is a service dog, but there is more to it than just training them to hit on the scents. They also have to be trained for all the things that happen in public and all the required etiquette of a service dog in public.

These are dogs that not only work at home, but they also need to function in public and have all the manners that are required for the service dog in public. You can go to someone to get a dog. If you go to a trainer, they may be able to train scent skills, but you need to know whether they know the law and can train for the other elements of a service dog. It’s not just the task; it’s a whole entire lifestyle that the dogs learn.

You also have non-profit organizations like Guardian Angels that teach the dog scent skills as well as everything the recipients need to know about having a service dog, such as how to make sure it is properly responding, practicing regularly, and different things that we teach the recipients to keep that dog sharp.

As a non-profit, we donate our dogs. They cost us about $40,000 from start to finish, and we also do a lifetime of follow-ups to ensure the dog is working properly and intervene if there are any behavioral issues. In contrast, a trainer or another organization or individual may not offer the same services.

Can I Train My Dog to Be a Diabetic Alert Dog?

By federal law, individuals are allowed to train their own dog as a diabetic alert dog, but you have to consider the experience the trainer or individual has. We don’t recommend it because most people do not have the skill to be able to train dogs at a high level as we do. Even regular dog trainers do not do what our organization does. Even if they can train the dog to alert to the scent, you have to consider whether they know about the laws and their rights, merchant rights, and proper etiquette in public.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Diabetic Alert Dog?

It depends on the waiting list. There are about 61 million people in the U.S. who have disabilities, with a fairly high number of them having diabetes since it is a common disability. There are not many service dogs organizations or service dogs being trained. We’ve seen numbers of around 1500-2000 service dogs a year trained and out in the working system. When compared to 61 million people with disabilities, you’ll find that many organizations have waiting lists anywhere from 2-10 years long.

Want to Learn More About Medical Service Dogs? Contact us Today!

At Guardian Angels, we are happy to serve as a resource for information on different types of medical service dogs and medical conditions that qualify for a service dog. Please contact us with any questions you may have.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022 – Harry Funk for Trib Live

Source: Mutt Strut: Pittsburgh event benefits group that provides service dogs to veterans


“After a two-year hiatus, Pittsburgh’s Community Mutt Strut returned for an in-person day of fun for four-legged friends and their people pals, all for a good cause. The event, held virtually during the covid-19 pandemic, benefits Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit that rescues, raises and trains canines to provide military veterans with essential companionship. “We’re here to add awareness to what our veterans are facing,” Plum resident Bill Jeffcoat said. “These veterans are coming home with visible and invisible disabilities: post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, insulin dependence, seizure disorders, mobility issues.” He is president of Life Changing Service Dogs for Veterans, a Pittsburgh-area organization formed seven years ago to support Guardian Angels’ mission. “These dogs allow these veterans to become a part of society. They’re able to go out, become employed and be part of the community once again.” Among those attending the Sept. 10 festivities was Carol Borden, founder and chief executive officer of Guardian Angels, which has its headquarters in Williston, Fla. “What a perfect day to hold the Mutt Strut, as this is National Suicide Prevention Day. And that is what we do,” she said. A major impetus behind her organization is helping to reduce the number of veterans who take their own lives, with the statistic that 22 per day often cited. “Our suicide rate still stands at zero,” Borden said about Guardian Angels’ pairings, which have been taking place for 12 years.

The Mutt Strut’s major sponsor has been PNC Financial Services Group Inc.  “We do a lot of things at PNC that we’re really proud of throughout the year, but for me, this is right at the top,” Gregory Jordan, executive vice president, general counsel and chief administrative officer, said. “It’s so direct. It’s so powerful, and I think it’s so meaningful.” Since 2016, PNC has raised enough money on Guardian Angels’ behalf to provide the financial resources to train nearly three dozen canines, according to Jordan. “You can say 35 dogs,” he said. “But when I hear that, I think 35 lives.”

The dogs’ training focuses on mitigating the challenges of veterans facing post-traumatic stress disorder, and the canines also learn to sense medical emergencies, such as internal bleeding. “These dogs become life-saving,” Jeffcoat said. His organization, which was founded by Vietnam-era veterans Tony Accamando and George D’Angelo in 2015, is working on fundraising to build a Guardian Angels campus in Robinson Township, Washington County. The estimate is that the new facility will double the capability for training dogs. Jeffcoat is another Vietnam veteran, serving with the U.S. Marine Corps as a dog handler. Although the military valued dogs as scouts and trackers, most were euthanized overseas rather than being returned to the United States, including Jeffcoat’s partner, Fraulein.

On a positive note, Mutt Strut 2022 exceeded its fundraising goal of $300,000, drawing supporters and dog lovers from all over the region. Traveling from her Hampton home, for example, was Emily Murphy. “For the past few years, we haven’t been able to participate because of the pandemic. But it’s nice to be back and show support for the organization,” she said about Guardian Angels. Representing Unleashed Doggie Daycare in West Deer, she brought Farrow, a therapy dog who visits establishments such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to provide comfort and support to residents. Many others visited with their dogs to enjoy activities including the main event, with many of the pooches in costume as they paraded along a path near Frick Park’s Lawn Bowling Greens. “The dogs are the heroes. They are amazing. But all of you are heroes, as well, because you’re here supporting this event, having a great time, bringing your own dogs out for fun,” Borden said prior to the parade. “So let’s have fun.”

For more information, visit and

Harry Funk is a Tribune-Review news editor. You can contact Harry at

Thanks to Erica Francis and Fox2 Detroit for sharing our program! Thanks also to our Michigan Regional Coordinator, Mary Lamparter; Veteran & Guardian Angels Staff Member, Nancy Dakin and to Recipient Matt and his Service Dog, Cobalt for sharing their incredible story.

If you believe that a service dog could assist you, learn more about the process here.

If you would like to donate, to help us continue training service dogs for those in need, click here.

United States Army Captain John Kelly (Ret.) was paired with his service dog Ranger in August 2016. “I am a husband, father, veteran, paratrooper, and I’m lucky to be alive,” said John. (more…)

Sheldon Ewers is a U.S. Navy veteran who later worked as a Michigan corrections officer. Sheldon had experiences in both of these positions that left him diagnosed with depression, PTS, and hypervigilance. Sheldon was paired with his service dog Roy in August 2016. (more…)

Mary Jo Brandt joined Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs as a volunteer in 2011, a Board Member in 2012, and accepted a position as Chief Operating Officer full-time in 2016. She has been instrumental in implementing and overseeing many policies and initiatives throughout her time with Guardian Angels. (more…)

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