Fight to save 'lifeline' dog

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A DIABETIC mum is prepared to fight a court order to save the pet dog which she says is a "lifeline" in helping her live with her dangerous condition.

Nikki Clarke's Labrador, Harley, warns her when her blood sugar level is dropping - allowing her to take action to prevent a hypoglycemic attack.

Housing management company Sheffield Homes, has obtained a court injunction ordering that she get rid of the dog because residents of her block in Batemoor Road, Batemoor, are not allowed any animals or birds.

But Nikki said Harley is a "lifeline" for her and two-year-old daughter Robyn because he picks up on the signs of an imminent attack even when she doesn't experience any symptoms.

It means she can then take steps to stabilise her condition, preventing the attack which can cause nervousness, sweating, palpitations and even a total loss of consciousness.

Nikki, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was four-years-old, said the attacks had become more symptomless since the birth of Robyn, making them harder to control.

The 25-year-old inquired about getting a registered hypo alert medical assistance dog but was told it would take three years.

Instead, she took in Harley from a rescue centre in July 2009 and the pair have completed their own training.

He can now alert her when her sugar levels are dropping, giving her time to take action.

Nikki said: "Harley is the only thing that is allowing me to live a normal life - he is my lifeline.

"When I'm about to suffer an episode his whole behaviour changes - he keeps pawing at me and won't leave me alone so I know that something might be wrong with me.

"He's really helpful in the night too because I can go from sleep to unconsciousness without even knowing if I suffer an attack. Instead he jumps on me on the bed and wakes me up."

Bank worker Nikki told The Star losing him would be devastating for her and her daughter.

"My daughter Robyn is only two and too young to be effectively left on her own in the flat if I suffer an attack.

"Even if I don't lose consciousness, I am in a place where my body isn't connected to my brain - I could do anything when I'm in that state.

"If I lose Harley I could lose my job, my daughter and maybe even my life."

She said the diabetic team at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, under whose care she receives treatment, have recommended she is allowed to keep the dog.

Nikki plans to fight Sheffield Homes' injunction in a trial at Sheffield County Court.

A spokesman for Sheffield Homes said the company could not comment on the case in the run up to the trial, which is due to take place in March or April.

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