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A Diabetic Alert Dog Can Keep a Fairfield County Toddler Safe

Aidan Sgandurra, who is only 23 months old, is living with Type 1 Diabetes. A fundraiser to help his family to purchase a $21,000 Diabetic Alert Dog is scheduled for June 9 in Fairfield.

Denise Sgandurra watched her twin boys Aidan and Lukas, both 23 months old, play with toy cars on her living room floor one recent afternoon. Aidan, who is the oldest, requires constant monitoring.

"He has Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes," said Sgandurra, a special education teacher at Masuk High School.

When Aidan's blood sugar levels drop he can have a seizure, go unconscious or slip into a coma, while high levels can damage his organs, according to Sgandurra, who grew up in Fairfield.

"He can be lethargic and spacey," she said of some of the tell-tale signs of low blood sugar. "Once it was dropping so fast that his teeth were chattering and his body was trembling."

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Sgandurra and her husband Jim test Aiden 10 times a day, once every three hours and twice after snacks, pricking his finger. "Then he gets insulin which brings his sugar level down," Sgandurra said.

The Sgandurras want to buy a Diabetic Alert Dog, which is trained to alert the diabetic or a loved one to blood sugar fluctuations, preventing the dangerous consequences of extreme highs and lows. Diabetic Alert Dogs are 100 percent accurate and often alert as much as 20-45 minutes before a meter shows there's even a problem.

"It's important to have a dog, because he's so young it's hard to tell," Sgandurra said of how her son is feeling.

But one of these dogs costs $21,000.

On Saturday, June 9, the Sgandurra family will host a fundraising expo at , 131 Beach Road in Fairfield, from noon to 5 p.m. with multiple vendors and raffles. Admission will be $5.

"We're doing a huge fundraiser on June 9," Sgandurra said.

Vendors include Thirty One, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Tupperware, Arbonne, Creative Memories and Stampin Up.

"There will be face painting and raffles," Sgandurra said. "Each vendor is donating a gift toward a raffle and I'm waiting for Timex to donate a watch."

Dichello Distributors will donate two golf bags, the Plaza Diner in Shelton a gift certificate and a caterer will donate lunch boxes to sell, according to Sgandurra.

"We are trying to raise awareness for Juvenile Diabetes as well as Guardian Angel Service dogs, also known as DAD animals (Diabetic Alert Dogs)," Sgandurra said.

An Early Diagnosis

Aidan was on an antibiotic for a respiratory infection this spring when he started having complications.

"We thought he was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic," Sgandurra said. "He was crying, urinating through everything. He was standing by the refrigerator saying, 'Ice.' He was constantly touching his tongue. The way his tongue was so sticky, you'd think we gave him caramel."

Jim and Denise Sgandurra took their son to Yale-New Haven Hospital on April 1 and he was admitted for five days. He was soon diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It is an autoimmune disease, so Denise said their son will have it for life.

With the proper treatment, she said, "He could have a complete, typical life."

Aidan was diagnosed young. Denise said children with Type 1 Diabetes are usually diagnosed by age seven.

Guardian Angel Service Dogs

Lynne McPadden, Denise' aunt, saw an article on Diabetic Alert Dogs in the Connecticut Post and brought the article to the hospital.

Guardian Angel Service Dogs is a charity that is associated with Warren Retrievers, a nationally regarded breeder of Labrador Retrievers in Orange, Va. Warren Retrievers trains service dogs to help those with "invisible disabilities" such as diabetes, post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Guardian Angel Service Dogs is helping the Sgandurras to raise the money needed to buy a Diabetic Alert Dog.

All donations are tax deductible. Direct donations to the organization can be made with the note "For the benefit of the Sgandurra Family." Once the Sgandurra's reach their goal, funds will benefit another family in need.

There are two ways to donate:

  1. Go to GuardianAngelServiceDogs.org. Click on the donate button. Once a donation has been submitted you will receive an email asking which family your donation should benefit.
  2. Checks can be made out to Guardian Angel Service Dogs with the note "For the benefit of the Sgandurra Family" and sent to: Guardian Angel Service Dogs, Attn: Dan Warren, P.O. Box 910 Orange, VA 22960.
Julie Davis May 29, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I am a resident of Fairfield,CT and have researched the service dogs as my daughter has type 1 diabetes as well. In my research the trainers required us to travel back and forth during the year but the cost to travel was not in our budget. Do the Guardian Angel Service require travel back and forth with the dog and your son??
Asil Black May 29, 2012 at 10:48 PM
In my personal opinion these people are seriously over charging for their service dogs an taking complete advantage of people who are desperate. You can get a scent imprinted dog for about $2,000.
Alexis Michaels May 29, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Warren Retrievers can't make up their minds. I just read another article about them where the man paid $40,000 for his young puppy that would hopefully make it as a service dog. I don't know what kind of money most of you make, but $21K is NOT in my budget. If awesome, ADI certified organizations can sell fully-trained service dogs for under $10k, why does this organization charge so much money and make you do a lot of the training yourself?
Alexis Michaels May 29, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Julie, they will travel to you every 90 days and stay for about 2 days. The rest of the time the training is up to you. You will be doing the majority of the training and paying a lot of money. They tend to leave this out in a lot of article. Most of the articles about dogs from this program don't give full truths. You need to read at least a dozen articles or more before you really get a feel for what they will and will not do.
SD Handler May 29, 2012 at 11:21 PM
A scent imprinted puppy from a reputable source cost less than $2,000 on average, and a fully trained service dog should cost between $5-$10, NOT $20k-$40k. IN MY OPINION, what Warren is doing is taking advantage of the disabled and should be criminal.
Alexis Michaels May 30, 2012 at 12:32 AM
I just reread this article. This child is under 2 years old!!! One of the purposes of a service dog is for the disabled person to gain independence. A 2 year old does not need independence. At that age, they should be relying on their parents for pretty much everything. That dog will be retired before the child is even able to handle the dog on their own.
Amy Reay May 30, 2012 at 12:50 AM
The child is under 2 years of age which means his parents need to know, and sometimes a child can't express themselves well, especially while their sugar is fluctuating. But any mom will tell you they sometimes need to do the laundry, take a shower, cook dinner....and the healthiest of children make that difficult. This mom needs assistance to be able to be the best mom to both her kids. Cut her some slack. She isn't saying 'Buy me a dog so I don't have to pay attention.' Service dogs are amazing animals....I would be lost without mine. I raised $9,500 towards the $22K cost of my dog. Have you considered that a training facility not only raises and trains the dogs, provides complete and very extensive screening and vet car, food and other maintenance but they also have a facility to maintain that includes insurance, utilities and countless other things. They are mosy often nonprofit organizations....not thieves-
Asil Black May 30, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Amy please understand that those orgs are placing dogs....at 2 years old...Warren is not...they are placing PUPPIES.
myrtlebrown May 30, 2012 at 06:35 AM
"Official Samples" is giving away free sample of dog food from the brand flint river ranch. Try it and treat your dog!
Amy Reay May 30, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Wait.....how are they able to train and certify a dog while it is still a puppy? Most service dogs are around 2 years old by the time they're ready to meet and train with their partner. I still back my opinion that $22K is truly the cost of the big picture of training/certifying/placing a service dog.....but I do not condone placing a puppy with a partner, as it can't have been thoroughly in such a short time. My hearing dog was 15 months when he was ready, and that is young.
Alexis Michaels May 30, 2012 at 02:55 PM
They are claiming that at 14 weeks, the dog is fully-trained. It doesn't say in this article but it says so in many others. I wouldn't pay $22K for a 14 week old puppy.
Asil Black May 30, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Yes Amy please understand that it is my opinion that service dog are wonderful and yes this mother shoulder have the piece of mind of a service dog. Personally I am NOT saying she shouldn't. I personally feel it could be very beneficial to her and her children and give her a piece of mind, I personally use a service dog as well. However it is my personal opinion that this family's money could be better spent else where and that they are unfortunately being taken advantage of.
Alexis Michaels May 31, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I would never call Guardian Angel Service Dogs a charity. A charity doesn't charge $20,000 for a service dog. Your child was diagnosed 2 months ago, don't you need more time to figure out how to adjust your lives to having a chronically ill child before adding a puppy to the mix? A puppy that you will pay $20,000 to mostly train on your own. A puppy from a company who will not let you use a different trainer, you feed the food of their choice, and if the puppy doesn't make it as a service dog-I'm guess you are out the $20,000. If the dog does reach service dog status, will you be able to raise this money all over again when the dog retires around the age of 10?
Alexis Michaels June 01, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I just found out that under CT law, you would not be able to take this puppy out to train yourself. You'd have to wait for the people from the program to come and take the puppy to public places for public access training in places such as restaurants and groceries stores. You could only take the dog to places where all pets are allowed. So until this dog is fully-trained, the dog would not be able to accompany you and your daughter everywhere you go. And contrary to what they may tell you, a 16 week old scent-imprinted puppy is not a fully-trained service dog.
Dianna Santora June 04, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Julie, if you would like to know more about Warren Retrievers and get correct and factual information you can email me. Dianna.santora@gmail.com. We will be receiving our DAD soon. The above comments are made from people who do not have first hand knowledge of this organization. I live in your community as well.
Betty Boop June 04, 2012 at 03:28 AM
can I email you too?
Alexis Michaels June 07, 2012 at 09:45 PM
How do you know we don't have first hand knowledge? You know nothing about most of us, if any of us at all. You won't be receiving a DAD, you'll receive a scent imprinted puppy. A fully-trained service dogs has 18-24 months of training under their. Feel free to ask ADI, Assistance Dogs International which is an international umbrella organization for service dog programs. Or call the ADA hotline to ask them if a 4 month old puppy is a fully-trained service dogs. The resources are out for you to do independent research. You don't have to listen to us. Ask the experts who have been working with service dogs and the laws concerning them for over 25 years. 1-800-514-0301.
Jovana Flores June 18, 2012 at 07:23 AM
Look who it is the infamous Alexis M strikes again. It is so sad that you actually search out articles and spit your hateful opinionated rants against Warren Retrievers.Have you decided to accept my challenge yet? Anytime, Anyplace my Lotus will alert on point, and yes she goes everywhere with us.She accompanied my son on his 5th grade field trip to Sea World.She even rode a few rides with him. Impressive for a "puppy who is only scent-trained" I know its hard to believe because must companies cannot breed or train their dogs to do this in under 2 dogs passing public access with in the year. It's OK, just consider Warren Retriever dogs as a gifted student that skipped grade levels and graduated summa cum laude. Alexis please take your time and read through this then ask yourself 2 very simple questions: 1. Is this a service dog- Yes 2. What service does the animal provide? Our dogs alert to fluctuations in blood glucose levels.The will also assist in bringing items needed for checks and corrections.You continue to speak in circles and always with the same argument. So since I have a Warren Retriever, I will follow behind your ridiculous and OPINIONATED post. Since you have so much time on your hands to seek article regarding WR, check out these easy to read links. I encourage the rest of you to do so as well and it will clear to see the opinions and rantings by Alexis M and groupies are biased. http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm, http://www.servicedogssavelives.org/laws.html
Jovana Flores June 18, 2012 at 07:24 AM
No Mam, check your facts and try again.
Jovana Flores June 18, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Oh really so the ADA has set age limits on who can handle a service dog. Interesting
Jovana Flores June 18, 2012 at 07:31 AM
Let's see by the time the child is in school his/her service dog can and will be accompanying them to school. Should the child go to sleep away camp, sporting tournaments, etc. Their service dog will be right there to provide a service and keep that child safe. Let me put it simply - allowing the child to gain independence.
Jovana Flores June 18, 2012 at 07:38 AM
Wait for it.... BECAUSE OUR DOGS ARE SMARTER, 100% RELIABLE AND BRED TO BE A SERVICE DOGS. Really, why would I ever settle for mediocre dog to entrust my child's life with.
Jovana Flores June 18, 2012 at 07:49 AM
Or you could call Warren Retrievers and have them give you the information. I also invite you to contact me personally at 321-945-8224 or you can check out my Facebook page: jovana.flores@facebook.com. As for not being able to take your service dog out in public for public access training is untrue. Here is the deal- My 12 week old diabetic alert dog- provided my son a service. She alerted when his BG was high or low. Public access training must take place in public and under the Federal Laws only 2 questions are allowed to be asked. Is this a service dog and what service does the dog provide. That's it. I have taken Lotus everywhere and I mean everywhere to prepare her for her public access test.
Knightstalker December 02, 2012 at 07:36 AM
No you can not take your dog out in public if your state does not cover Service dogs in training. Alexis is right. So looks like for $20,000 the only public training you can get is 4 times a year, if that. doesnt sound legit to me
Knightstalker December 02, 2012 at 07:37 AM
There is no way your dog is 100%. That claim is enough to get me to go somewhere else.
Knightstalker December 02, 2012 at 07:39 AM
The company is a joke. Fact is a two year old can NOT handle a dog. Alexis just check out the site exposing this guy http://www.facebook.com/bad.DADs.out
Knightstalker December 02, 2012 at 07:41 AM
Julie if you want the truth here you go http://www.facebook.com/bad.DADs.out, you can read his crazy contract too
Knightstalker December 02, 2012 at 07:43 AM
Alexis, there is no evidence that he even imprints his dogs. He is one company that hides behind words. lets see some videos of him imprinting

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