08 February 2010

Diabetes Alert Dogs - Misc Warnings

Like so many good things where there is an honest dollar to be made, you can bet that someone is there to make a dishonest dollar by defrauding people.  So as a warning - please, please, do your homework before acquisition of a service dog of any type.

For the four categories below, enter the name of the person or business and the word complaints in a search engine (example: insert name of [breeder or kennel] - complaints).  You will need to do the same for trainers.  I was surprised at the results of several random picks.  Therefore, please read the full story including the comments below the story.  Some complaints are legitimate while others are mean spirited or are written by competitors.  Also do not forget to check with the Better Business Bureau in the area.  Use any other sources you can.

Trainer Problems

Happily, there are more trainers interested in helping you sincerely, but be careful.  Even good trainers have bad days, but normally they will have your interests foremost.

The trainers we want to avoid are those that do not train the dogs.  While harsh training methods are a method of training, I do not advise using trainers using these methods - aversion, force, shock and choke collars.  Some trainers can really talk the talk, but produce no results, can not walk the walk.  Be careful in dealing with those trainers that want a lot of money up front and have demands that have to be followed.  Requests and suggestions are acceptable.

Puppy Mills

Puppy mills exist most everywhere in the US.  As long as we continue to patronize them instead of boycotting them and the pet stores they supply, they will continue to cause problems for healthy dogs and local animal shelters.  The shelters and ASPCA's often have to put many of these animal to sleep when local law enforcement steps in.  While ASPCA's can take action, they need assistance from local law enforcement and thus their record is less than stellar.

Most of these puppy mills have recurring health problems in their animals.  The pet stores often do not care, know that the health certificates are not up to date or are a total fake, spread this problem on to consumers.  Avoid these operations if you want a healthy service dog.

Problem Breeders and Service Dog Scams

These can be separated or combined depending on the way you look at them.  Since many unreliable breeders use unreliable trainers and the reverse.  They both will use and sell untrained or untrainable dogs as service dogs.

There are organizations at work trying to record and maintain records of the undesirable breeders and trainers.  Before retaining a trainer, take a look at this site.  For breeders be sure the look at this site.

Service Dog Registry Scams

These people are diminishing the rights of owners of legitimate service dogs.  This blogger is calling attention to it, while at the same time selling the equipment he is complaining about. 

Service Dog Registry is FREE.   Why would anyone pay $35 to $350 (or more) for something that is free?  Apparently many people who do not research the rules and regulations.  Many people think that the fake certificates will qualify their pet as a service dog.  They also use these fake certificates to get their pets into places they otherwise would be prohibited, and make it more difficult for legitimate service dogs.  But a word of warning, if you travel outside the United States, you may need papers that meet the requirements of the country or countries in which you will be traveling.

For information on service dog registry check out this site and this one.

There are many medical doctors that are writing prescriptions for what are loosely termed "comfort dogs" to get their owners around the "No Pet" rules in many housing situations.  The American Disabilities Act needs an enforcement provision powers to curb the abuses being foisted upon us by scammers and their own lack of definitive rules.

Other Planning

Get your service dog micro-chipped.  This is in your best interest.  What happens if your dog bolts away and you are miles away from home - it happens.  There are dog-nappers that kidnap dogs for ransom or for sale to labs using dogs for experiments.  The following are some of the sites you should be familiar with for using microchips.

Site 1.  Costs vary from $45 to $60 or higher depending on the charge by the veterinary.  Microchips are important. but do not replace collars, ID tags, and rabies tags.  These are still the primary means for getting your service dog back when they are lost.  Microchips become more important in cases where the animal is stolen and you need to positively identify the dog or in cases where the collar has broken away and the shelter has picked up the animal.

Site 2.  This site tells about a universal microchip reader which many shelters do not have.

Site 3.  President Bush signed a bill in 2006 that charged the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) with standardizing microchips. However, APHIS only exercises authority over organizations that are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Site 4.  The American Animal Hospital Association on September 22, 2009 created the AAHA Pet Microchip Lookup Tool.   This is not available to the public for use, but you need to know that it exists and ask your local shelter, ASPCA, or veterinarian if this can be used if you lose your dog.

Uninsurable Service Dogs  

In most states, insurance companies, in particular home owners insurance, will not cover certain breeds or mix of certain breeds in their insurance policies.  So before you look for a service dog, check with your insurance carrier to see what the provisions are and what breeds might be excluded.

Food for Your Dog

Before purchasing food for your dog, you would do well to read the following articles about dog food and talk to your trainer or breeder about the foods they use.  Just be careful as many of the commercial dog foods may not be suitable for your dog.  Your veterinary may be a trustworthy source also, but use care.


The warnings are not all inclusive and you should do your homework before laying out money for a service dog.  There may be additional information that is published that is applicable.


  1. Thank you for a very concise, accurate and informed report!

  2. Hi Bob,

    I wanted to let you and your readers know about a non-profit organization called Dogs for Diabetics in Concord, CA. They have been training dogs for Type 1 Diabetics for approximately seven years. It was founded by a gentleman who has Type 1 DM. The dogs come primarily from Guide Dogs for the Blind or Canine Companions for Independence, that didn't make their program for one reason or another.

    I am writing a blog about managing my Type 1 Diabetes with a D4D dog. His name is Bradley. You can check it out at http://www.bradleyandme.wordpress.com.

    Dogs for Diabetics website is http://www.dogs4diabetics.com. I can't say enough wonderful things about this organization and the on-going support that they provide.

    Thanks for your post. :)