Diabetic prisoners being sniffed out

Wed, 02 Feb 2011
A dog training programme in Australia is proving successful in helping sniff out people with diabetes . The Pups in Prison scheme, which is run in conjunction with Assistance Dogs Australia and the NSW Department of Corrective Services, is using prisoners with diabetes to help train dogs that can identify the signs of problematic blood sugar levels .

The programme, now in its fourth year, has just trained a 12-month old cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Pascoe to sniff out diabetes with the help of inmates at Junee Prison in the south of the state. The dog is being taught to notice changes in a person's body odour or breath so he can alert them if there is a danger of extreme blood sugar levels. Pascoe sleeps in the same cell as prisoners, and is also being shown how to help the elderly by fetching things, answering the phone and barking at strangers.

The diabetic alert dog, only the second of its kind, is being shown how to identify the sweet, fruity smells that could warn of high blood sugar levels or the rusty, acidic smells that may be due to low blood sugar . Once he has mastered the skills, he will go to a family that has a child with diabetes to help them be aware of changes in their child's glucose levels .

Andy Walker, the manager at Junee Prison, commented "The prisoners take it very seriously. It does boost morale. There are up to six dogs in the prison at the same time."
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