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Pike County family gets long-awaited diabetic alert dog

By: Whitney Burks Email
By: Whitney Burks Email

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - They waited almost one year, but Monday one Pike County family welcomed a new addition to their family: a 17-week-old labrador retriever.

The family tells Mountain News this puppy could be the one to help keep 12-year-old Mackenzie Lemaster alive.

"Mackenzie has what they call hypoglycemia unawareness," said Mackenzie's mom Melissa Lemaster.

Last year he went for a physical and was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes.

He spent one week in the hospital.

"He can't tell when his sugar is too low or too high," said Melissa.

When they got home Melissa started researching the disease, and found information about diabetic service alert dogs.

Right away she knew Mackenzie needed one.

That is where Bella fits into the story.

"Right now she does what we call natural alerts. Basically I know something's wrong and I know I got to tell you but I don't know how," said Warren Retrievers Training Director Cheri Campbell.

Bella is new to the Lemasters' family. She was bred to be a diabetic service alert dog.

"This dog could potentially save his life," said Melissa.

Mackenzie has to check his blood sugar levels at least 10 times each day and throughout the night.

He is not able to tell when his sugar levels are off, but Bella is.

"They can smell it. Their nose is so much more powerful than yours and mine," said Campbell.

Mackenzie's family spent nearly 10 months raising $25,000 to be able to get a diabetic service alert dog, so Monday was a huge day for them as they welcomed home the newest part of their family.

"It will give us some relief because even though we will still have to check him this dog will alert to us that something is wrong before it happens," said Melissa.

Bella's training will continue with the family for about two years to refine her skills, but trainers say even now at 17-weeks-old she has the ability to be a hero.

"The dog will truly be a lifesaver," said Melissa.

It is a weight lifted off the family's shoulders by a puppy with a strong snout.

Trainers say they deliver the dogs all over the world.

The Lemasters say they plan to continue raising money for the organization.

You can find a link to their Facebook page below.


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