PIQUA — A Piqua family is working on raising funds to obtain a diabetic alert dog for their 7-year-old.
Gavin Short is the son of Erica and John Short and was diagnosed in October 2015 with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder which causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin.
“He loves dinosaurs. He loves soccer, anything science-wise. He loves the outdoors,” Erica Short, Gavin’s mother, said. Short added that Gavin is very active and has an active imagination.
“He’s a very happy kid,” Short said. “He likes to make people laugh.”
Gavin takes multiple daily injections of insulin and checks his blood sugar multiple times a day. Despite constant care, insulin injection is not an exact science and Gavin can still have dangerously high or low blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar can cause seizures, coma, or death. Blood sugar levels that are too high can lead to complications including diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a dangerous condition that can lead to coma and death.
The diabetic alert dog would alert the family to the highs and lows of Gavin’s blood sugar. The dog will be a fully trained service animal capable of going everywhere with the family and helping to keep their son safe. Diabetic alert dogs are trained to detect high or low blood sugar levels through scent.
“It would help us by letting us know if he was high or low in real time,” Short said.
They currently monitor Gavin’s glucose levels, but the tools used are not necessary in real time. The diabetic alert dog would alert the family before the levels became dangerously low or high. They currently have to check Gavin’s blood sugar levels with a finger prick at least four times a day. Depending on his sugar levels that day, a low or a high may cause the need for several extra tests and lead to Gavin testing as many as 10 to 12 times in one day.
“The diabetic alert dog would be another tool to let us know,” Short said. For example, she said, if their family was out on a hike, Gavin might not feel his blood sugar dropping until it gets dangerously low.
The diabetic alert dog would also be a way for Gavin to be not only safe, but to gain some independence.
“A lot of times, they can get so in tune with their person that they’re able to catch it fairly early and prevent really low lows,” Short said about diabetic alert dogs.
The cost of a diabetic alert dog is approximately $20,000. The family wants to obtain a service dog through Alert Service Dogs in Indianapolis, Ind. They are working with Canines of Hope, a non-profit in Ann Arbor, Mich., to raise the money to pay for the cost. Donations to Canines of Hope in the name of Gavin Short go toward the cost of the diabetic alert dog for the family. Donations made to Canines of Hope are tax-deductible.
Several fundraisers are in progress. The first public fundraiser will be held at 36 Skate Club 4845 U.S. Route 36, Piqua, on Wednesday, May 11 from 6-8 p.m. The admission price is $5 and part of the proceeds will be donated to Canines of Hope in Gavin’s name. There will be a raffle and bake sale as well.
There will be also be a Dine and Donate event to benefit Gavin and raise money for his diabetic alert dog at Buffalo Wings and Rings in Piqua on Wednesday, May 25 from 5-8 p.m.
Donation can also be made directly by visiting caninesofhope.org and typing “Gavin Short” in the search box. People can also donate by writing a check payable to Canines of Hope and writing Gavin’s name in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Canines of Hope, 4911 Schneider Road, Ann Arbor, MI, 48103.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall