Community comes together at charity dog walk to help Shelton girl

A canine charity walk on Sunday afternoon helped raise money for a Shelton girl who would benefit from having a diabetic alert dog.

The “Pack Walk for Jackie” began at the Shelton Dog Park, with many participants bringing along their dogs. A number of people braved the damp weather to support the cause.

The event was organized by Valerie Mingrone of Shelton, a freshman in the Trumbull Agriscience Biotechnology Center school program, to assist Jackie Turiano, a sixth-grader at Perry Hill School in Shelton.

Jackie has Type I diabetes and also suffers from a severe bleeding condition. Diabetic alert dogs are trained to sense when someone’s blood sugar level is abnormal, and give a signal when that is the case.

Jackie, age 11, said she is grateful for all the people who are assisting her. “I’m very excited about this,” she said during the walk.

A diabetic alert dog will cost Jackie’s family about $6,000, including some related travel expenses.

Jackie was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 2009, and initially had to be hospitalized for a few days due to her condition. She now takes medication and must be monitored due to her condition.

Organizer didn’t know Jackie

Valerie did not know Jackie when she heard about her situation through her church, and decided to get involved to help. Valerie is known for love of animals and has three shelter pups — Brandy, Jenny and Tucker.

Jackie’s mother, Laura Turiano, said a diabetic alert dog will be of great assistance to her daughter.

An alert dog also will enable Laura Turiano to sleep more, since her daughter’s blood sugar level now must be tested regularly around the clock.

“I’m severely sleep deprived,” said Laura Turiano, who usually handles the overnight testing duties.

Jackie agreed her condition impacts her mother’s ability to get an adequate amount of sleep. "A diabetic alert dog would help out so my mom can actually get a full night’s sleep, knowing that my dog will notify me when I am in danger,” Jackie said.

A friendship has formed

Margie Mingrone, mother of event organizer Valerie, said she was pleased to see her daughter “giving back” through their involvement.

Margie Mingrone said Valerie and Jackie are both good kids who have formed a friendship in recent months, since Valerie began planning the fund-raising event.

“This had been a very worthwhile project for her,” Margie Mingrone said of Valerie. “She’s gotten her teacher and friends involved — everyone is on board.”

People donated $10 per person or $25 per family to participate in the walk. There also were raffles.

For more information on Jackie’s situation go to and click on “Fundraising” and then “Jackie.” The Heads Up Hounds nonprofit organization rehabilitates shelter dogs and makes them diabetic alert dogs.