Feb. 19, 2014 —
Most people living with diabetes are able to monitor their sugar, and stay healthy and active.
Unfortunately for Ashley Yates, 28, of Grayson, that is not the case. The mother of two, Yates had gestational diabetes with both pregnancies.
Yates was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2010, which means her body does not produce insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.
Yates uses insulin therapy to control her sugar levels, but unlike many others with the disease, she has difficultly recognizing her symptoms.
“When I am home relaxing or asleep, I don't notice,” Yates said. “The risks are high especially when you're asleep. Sometimes it gets dangerously low before I notice and I have to eat to try and get it back up. Then it will get high, which is just as dangerous.”
One option, an insulin pump, did not work well for Yates. Although she was wary of using a pump, she got one, but it malfunctioned the same day.
An alternative is available but it is both rare and expensive, a diabetic alert dog. This isn't just any pet but a service animal.
The American Disabilities Act defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or any other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.
Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disability to be accompanied by their service animals in public places such as, but not limited to, movies, restaurants, hospitals, offices, places of recreation, public transportation, commercial facilities and any other place that the public might enter.
Title III of the Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in public accommodations.
But the dogs aren't easy to find and are expensive to train.
“I have applied with Pawsibilities Unleashed, a company based in Frankfort that trains therapy dogs,” Yates explained. “Hopefully, I will qualify for a dog from their program.”
Yates said that the cost of a diabetic alert dog is between $10,000 and $20,000, including training and travel costs.
Yates has turned to social media to help raise the funds for her alert dog. She has already raised more than $500, most of it donated by strangers.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Yates said. “I didn't realize there would be so much support and I am so grateful.”
Yates said she wants to earn the money to pay for her alert dog and has fundraisers planned for the near future. To follow Ashley's progress, or to learn how to donate, visit www.facebook.com/Diabeticalertdogforashley.
Leeann Akers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 474-5101.