Mark with his dogs Jessie and Buckley
Mark RuefenachtD4D Founder

A Letter from our Founder

Dear Community,

2019 marks 15 years of service for D4D. As the founder, I am immensely proud of our community and all the work we’ve done together to empower diabetics to live beyond the restrictions of the disease.

Even with all the advancements in technology for diabetes management, our dogs remain the best safety net. While I wear the latest in technology– a continuous glucose monitor in a closed loop system that works with an insulin pump to give me my blood sugar levels throughout the day– Hollis gives me warning 10-20 minutes before the best consumer technology on the market. Hollis is still my #1 reliability source. He just gets it right.

Every penny contributes to allowing us to provide highly-trained, highly-skilled dogs free of charge to our clients. On behalf of the hard-working team at D4D, I want to thank you for your support and generosity. You have contributed to our success over the last 15 years and we thank you.


Mark Ruefenacht
Founder and President

Thank you for your time and generosity!

You are making it possible to fulfill our mission:
Science + heart = empowering diabetics to thrive

Community Donations

Volunteer Hours

Cost to Clients

Government Funding

Giving Back

Thanks to our dedicated tribe of volunteers who contributed more than $2.5 million worth of their time to make our life-saving partnerships possible.

“Over the past 8 years, I’ve had the joy and honor of working with more heroic people and dogs than I can count, and my volunteer work has become a part of who I am. Leading the Canine Training Partners (CTPs) and teaching clients to work with service dogs is a passion of mine, because it combines three things I love — dogs, teaching, and giving back to others.”

– CTP Leader, Stephanie Shadwick

A Past of Values

Sparked by Passion

Like the great tech startups around us, D4D began out of a garage with our founder Mark Ruefenacht funding the research and running an experiment to test his hypothesis — could the scent of hypoglycemia be isolated and detected on a reliable and scientific basis?

Fueled by Collaboration

In the pursuit of our founding question, many people pulled together their resources — Mark’s professional experience in forensic science, the expertise of medical professionals and dog trainers from many disciplines, and the invaluable donation from Guide Dogs for the Blind, our beloved Armstrong, D4D’s first Medical Alert Service Dog.

After verifying his hypothesis, Mark began D4D in October 2004, and as a grassroots movement since day one, D4D continues to collaborate with its community partners.

Kristin with her dog

2nd Generation Strong

Many of our clients have turned to D4D again for their 2nd life-saving partner, knowing firsthand the value of living with a D4D dog and the community by their side.

“Being placed with my first dog Rochelle was absolutely life-changing. She gave me my childhood and freedom back. In 2015, I was placed with my second D4D lifesaver Kellen. Kellen has given me the confidence to move away from home, graduate from college, and pursue graduate school from across the country. Living with Type 1 Diabetes isn’t quite so scary, knowing that Kellen always has my back. 

I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been like without D4D. These dogs are truly life-saving, and D4D is the most wonderful and supportive family.”

– D4D Client, Kristin Schmidt

A Present of Impact

Centered on Science

For the last 15 years, we have developed and maintained our industry-leading standards. Our dogs are trained to detect changes in blood sugar at a minimum of 80% and often alert at a statistical confidence interval as high as 99.73%, truly protecting the health and lives of our clients.

Led by Efficiency

We are always evaluating the efficiency of our operations and going as lean as possible to maximize our future impact and utilize every donor dollar.

89% of every dollar goes directly to our programs.

Roman and Whistler

Our Buddy Dogs

Our innovative Diabetes Buddy Dog program has expanded into all of California, Washington, and Oregon, responding to the growing number of children with Type 1 Diabetes.

“Whistler has turned Roman into an ambassador for T1D. When people come up to us, he loves to explain that he has Type 1 Diabetes and that Whistler is his Medical-Alert Service Dog.

While I knew that Whistler would be a friend and support Roman, I never expected that he would give Roman the confidence to embrace his T1D and to spread awareness to others without fear of judgment. A priceless gift!”

– Grateful Parent, Kelly McGuire

A Future of Growth

As we celebrate 15 years of service, I want to thank each of you for being a part of our story! I believe that everyone in our family— staff, volunteers, partners, and supporters— is more dedicated than ever to our mission of empowering diabetics to thrive. Because of you, we’ve had our most impactful year yet and are working hard to double the number of dogs-in-training and save twice as many lives.

We are strong and thriving because of supporters like you, and from all of us at D4D, I want to extend the warmest thanks for your love and commitment. Whether you’ve been with us since the beginning or are a new member of the family, we know that we couldn’t be creating life-saving partnerships without you!

Thank you from the D4D Staff,

Christy Gillham
Executive Director

15 Minutes of Fame

Our own Clay and Whitley appeared on NBC’s ‘Today’ show and are featured in Maria Goodavage’s “Doctor Dogs.” Proud to be one of the stories about how our best friends are becoming our best medicine.

“Whitley has now spent the last four yours at Clay’s side. She regularly alerts to his hypos twenty minutes before his CGM device does. His parents trust Whitley more than they trust any machine, no matter how high-tech.”

(Excerpt from “Doctor Dogs”)

Special Thanks

To our Change Makers, Board of Directors, and our wonderful community! With your support, D4D currently has over 135 active teams and has grown through another year of loss by design and is preparing for our future.

Strong Because of You!

Thank you to our family of supporters.

2018-2019 Fiscal Year Revenue*

For the Next 15!

We will continue to maximize your donations and have increased efficiency by almost 6% this year.

2018-2019 Fiscal Year Expenses*

*Pre-audit figures, subject to change before Audited Financials

Thank You for Being a Part of 15 Years of Life-Saving Stories

Share yours today #D4D15STRONG

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Our Canine Training Partners help save lives.

D4D creates life-saving partnerships…