Mark Ruefenacht is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. He holds a BS degree in Business Management from the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University. Professionally, Mr. Ruefenacht works in his 107 year-old family-owned and operated business, Heusser-Neweigh. His business specializes in quality assurance of precision measurements and is recognized as one of the foremost measurement standards laboratories in the world. He also serves as a contract employee with the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), developing and writing documentary standards, and performing accreditation assessments for the International Standards Organization (ISO). He consults directly with pharmaceutical, scientific and forensic laboratories as well as with law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local level throughout the United States and around the world.
Mark is an insulin-dependent diabetic, with a family history of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy and non age-related, advanced macular degeneration. With this strong motivation, Mark began his work with assistance dogs in 1995, raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) of San Rafael, California. He continues this volunteer service today as a regional Guide Dog Puppy Raising Group Leader and also leads a Research & Development Puppy Raising program under the direction of GDB.
In 1999, Mark was able to couple his professional experience in forensic science with his guide dog experience to develop innovative new training protocols for dogs to detect hypoglycemia (acute low blood sugar) in insulin-dependent diabetics. In 2004, he founded Dogs for Diabetics (D4D), the first-of-its-kind assistance dog organization fully accredited with Assistance Dogs International (ADI) for the training, placement, and follow-up services of dogs to assist type 1 diabetics. Over 100 dogs have been placed with diabetics to assist in the detection and prevention of hypoglycemia. These dogs now safeguard lives as well as help prevent diabetes-related disabilities such as blindness, amputations and other severe medical complications.
As a pioneer in the medical assistance dog industry, Mark continues to champion high training standards and ethics for all medical assistance dog organizations; as well as access rights under the American’s with Disabilities Act; and continued research into the training and use of dogs to assist in the mitigation of different medical conditions.
Mark has had the opportunity to share his story about his work with GDB and D4D as a speaker at numerous international conferences. In 2010, he was recognized by Bark Magazine as one of the 100 most innovative dog trainers in the world. He has traveled around the world, working directly with numerous assistance and guide dog organizations, to further the life-saving skills assistance dogs can provide to people with disabilities.
In 2012, Mark was awarded the Bronze medal and, in 2013, the Silver medal for the Jefferson Award to recognize his work in promoting volunteerism in the community with GDB and D4D. He was a contributor on the revisions to the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 2011 and also serves on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Disability Coalition to ensure thorough, but equitable, security screenings of persons with disabilities and assistance dogs. He consults with corporations and government entities on the ADA and assistance dogs in the work place. Additionally, he has served as an expert witness on topics of assistance dog training and the ADA in the California court system.