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Charity chief urges businesses to back its future plans

The charity, based at Great Horwood, currently has 74 assistance dogs working with people many of whom have Type 1 diabetes. There are another 100 are waiting up to three years for a dog.

Chief operating officer Captain Dan Howard said MDD’s priority is to reduce that waiting list as quickly as possible.

“We must also raise the level of awareness of what MDD does, continue to conduct scientific research that demonstrates the value of our dogs and demonstrate the potential savings our dogs can make for the NHS,” he told guests.

He appealed to businesses to support the charity’s work. A new business plan aims to strengthen the charity with an expanded team and more robust systems and governance in place, he said.

Work is due to start later this year to expand the charity’s facilities at Great Horwood.

MDD trains dogs to detect certain cancers by the odour emitted from breath or urine samples. Research being carried out with bio-detection dogs aims to create a faster, cheaper, non-invasive and more reliable detection and early diagnosis of cancer.

Its medical alert assistance dogs constantly sense for minor odour changes in their human partner and are trained to warn them of an impending and life-threatening medical emergency.

Also at the briefing were Type 1 diabetes sufferer Carolyn Gatenby and her dog Simba, who has been trained as a medical alert assistance dog.

She explained how she could go into a diabetic coma without warning, even as she slept, sometimes meaning urgent admission to hospital. “It ruled my life,’ she said.

Now, if an emergency threatens at any time day or night, Simba alerts her so she can take her drugs. Carolyn said: “I now have a real quality of life and live it to the full. Without MDD I would not be here today.

"My parents said that when they passed away someone would look after me like they had – I do not think they were expecting a dog to do it.” 

Pictured: Carolyn Gatenby and Simba with Captain Dan Howard (left), of Medical Detection Dogs, and MKBLP chair Philip Smith.

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