EL PASO, Texas -

An El Paso woman is crediting her dog with saving her life last week.

Chandra Sierra and her service dog, Ally, have been inseparable since Chandra adopted her from the Animal Rescue League's shelter in May.

"I can't do anything without this dog," said Chandra. "She's my best friend, and my companion and my hero."

Chandra said Ally earned the "hero" distinction last week when she had a severe reaction to a medication.

"Everything started: The blood rushing, I started to get blurred vision, my heart started to go (fast), it began," said Chandra, describing how she felt before she passed out.

She doesn't know how long she was lying unconscious on her floor. 

"I woke up because I was getting licked," Chandra said. "Not like the normal kisses on the nose. Like, full, up-down, tongue in my ear -- everything to get me up. I woke up and Ally was standing over me." 

ALLY -- which Chandra affectionately describes as a 20 lb. "American All-Breed"  -- even helped her owner crawl to her phone in her bedroom to call for help.

When aske what she thought would have happened if she didn't have Ally, Chandra replied, "I more than likely would have had a heart attack, my heart was pounding so fast. Without Ally, I probably wouldn't have made it through the night."

Being there to help is what Ally was trained to do through the PAWS program, which was launched in 2012 by El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles and Loretta Hyde with the Animal Rescue League.

What started as a basic obedience training for dogs by county jail inmates has expanded, with the inmates spending six hours a day, seven days a week for six weeks providing shelter-provided dogs with training to make them service dogs for those with special needs.

Chandra said she and Ally are an example that the program works.

"I want to thank the people at PAWS for giving me this dog," She said, her voice cracking and her eyes welling up with tears. "Because I wouldn't be here without her and I wouldn't be here without that program."

The PAWS Program is dependent entirely on donations. Those interested in the program may call 915-856-4808. A link to the section of the EPCSO website dedicated to the program is under Links Mentioned at kvia.com.