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Oh Rats! Woman Gets Debilitating Spasms, but Pet Rat Senses Them

From ABC News
By KIM CAROLLO and ABC NEWS MEDICAL UNIT | June 1, 2011
 
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Dani Moore of Hesperia, Calif., owes much of what she can do in her life to a rat.

The rat, named Hiyo Silver, has the unique ability to feel when the 56-year-old Moore’s body is just starting to shake because of muscle spasms. Because she suffered injuries to her spinal nerves, she can’t feel those spasms until they become extremely bad. By then, it’s sometimes too late to avoid a serious injury.

“Since I have osteporosis, if the spasms get too bad, they can fracture vertebrae, which has happened to me before.”

When Hiyo licks her neck or face, Moore knows it’s time to take action either by stretching her muscles or taking medication to stop the spasms.

She keeps Hiyo on a leash atop her shoulder wherever she goes because she never knows when she’ll get spasms.

“Before I got my service rat, I would sometimes spend weeks in bed because the spasms would not let up. I was so much more limited to where I could go or what I could do,” Moore said.

Rainette Murphy Lopez trains service dogs to respond to various human illnesses and is also a friend of Moore’s. As a former New York City resident who saw her fair share of sewer rats, she was skeptical of Moore’s claims about her rodents. But over time, she witnessed just how right Moore was.

“I saw how they would come up and they would lick her cheek or reposition themselves — sort of roll up into her neck — when she started having spasms.”

Despite the freedom she’s able to enjoy now, she wasn’t always able to take Hiyo or her other rats with her anywhere. The Americans With Disabilities Act only recognizes dogs and miniature horses as service animals, meaning that businesses are only required to allow these animals onto premises.
 
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