They're supposed to be service dogs alerting their owners if their blood sugar is low or high no matter what time of day.
But a woman from Groton with severe diabetes says she didn't get what she paid for after dishing out more than $10,000 on a diabetes alert dog.
Kristie Singleton, 41, has dealt with type one diabetes since she was 11. Because of it, she has an insulin pump on her 24/7.
“The problem I have is that some days my body accepts the insulin, some days it doesn't. But I don't feel highs and lows. So, I needed him,” Singleton said talking about her service dog, Andy.
She got him three years ago from the company "Diabetic Alert Dogs of America" in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I did a lot of research, checked out a bunch of different companies. There's a lot of scam companies out there and thought I found a really great one,” Singleton said.
Andy does alert her when her sugars are too high or too low, but she says he doesn't do one thing that she really needed.
“Never once has he alerted me in the middle of the night. My blood sugars change when I’m sleeping and I don't feel them. It doesn't wake me up so having a dog that would alert me when I’m asleep was going to be a saving grace for me,” Singleton said.
That's something the company promised her the dog would do.
According to the company's warranty, "the dog will be trained to alert while sleeping by physically jumping up on a bed to wake you, if your blood sugar levels are out of your range at night"
Singleton also says the company told her over the phone, they would cover some unexpected vet bills, especially if the dog has a genetic problem.
She says when she reached out to the company about it they told her that was never discussed, and since it's not in writing, Singleton’s hands are tied.
“Andy is a lab. Their genetics are prone to ear infections. I spent thousands and thousands of dollars in vet bills on ear infections,” Singleton said.
The veterinarian bills range from $268 to more than $637. Andy also has allergies and a weak stomach, so he has to eat special food.
The dog was nearly $15,000, and while she still owes the company $4,500 for him, she said she's not paying because she's spent so much in vet bills.
“I’ve dished out more than that in vet bills so is there something we can work out? They said you owe $4,700, if you make a lump sum payment of $3,000 we will knock the other $1,700 off. I asked them to put it in writing and they refused,” Singleton said.
She isn't the only dog owner having problems.
Channel 3 was actually first alerted to the potential problem by a woman in Maryland, who said her dog Lucky was from the same company in Las Vegas.
He’s seen acting aggressively towards another dog that was walking by, and is seen not listening to commands.
According to the company's warranty, "in public service training, the dogs are taught, public service manners. They are exposed to a wide variety of sights and sounds in public atmospheres catered to the client's specific daily routines."
Channel 3 went to visit the Las Vegas company and heard dogs barking but no one came to the door.
Channel 3 also called them but they haven’t called back.
Even though it states clearly on its website that all of their dogs go through 6 to 8 months of training, including training them to alert their owners to blood sugar levels, even while they are sleeping, they also say the dogs come with a health guarantee, and go through a vigorous training schedule that consists of obedience and socialization.
The dog owners had to sign the company's purchase agreement which states "a diabetic alert service dog is not guaranteed to alert 100 percent of the time. Buyer acknowledges and agrees that dog is a living animal with free will and that any dog can be provoked to behave aggressively or bite no matter what dog breed, temperament, or level of training provided.”
Singleton said she wouldn’t trade Andy in for the world, but said she hopes others get what they pay for.
“Just the alerts on their own are enough to keep me alive but I don't feel that I shouldn't pay the full $15,000 for a dog that's not doing his full job,” she said.
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