11-year old Madyson Siragusa and her service dog Duke were turned away from Roth Middle School in Henrietta, NY Friday, after administrators rejected arguments that the yellow lab was a “medical necessity” for the young diabetic.
Duke is trained to sniff out blood sugar swings. And while Madyson’s parents asrgued that Duke is “no different than the Seeing Eye dogs allowed in public buildings,” administrators at the Rush Henrietta Central School stated that their change of heart regarding him came after medical consultants advised them that the yellow lab “wasn’t medically necessary, and might only serve to distract or scare other students, as well as aggravate allergies.”
“The presence of a service animal trained to monitor these levels is redundant,” they said in a released statement. “Our schools are staffed by a school nurse and supported by a district nurse practioner.”
On the other hand, Lily Grace, founder and CEO of the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs (which provided the Siragusa family with Duke) argued that their animals can “supplement school care by detecting highs and lows in between visits to the nurse’s office.”
Although most people can sense the warning signals of low blood sugar levels (sweating, shaking, nausea, and confusion); some like Madyson are unable to feel these symptoms and are thus unaware that their blood sugar is dropping or is dangerously low. This can lead to seizures, brain damage, or passing out while driving - Diabetic Alert Service Dog’s, however, are trained to alert their charges to low or high blood sugar levels.
The Siragusa’s paid $20,000 for Duke, dipping deep into their personal finances and raising money online by selling bracelets. As a result of the board’s decision, they are now have tutors to teach Madyson at home.
“We have no idea what changed their minds,” commented Madyson’s mom Keri, who told reporters that “district officials seemed receptive to the idea of allowing Duke to accompany her daughter to school” when she proposed it before the end of school last spring.
For more information regarding the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs call them at 888 477-6597.