Page 86 - ShowSight, March 2020
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                It’s reassuring to learn that those students might have a deeper understanding of a breeder’s motivation for planning, producing, rais- ing and placing a litter of purebred puppies. Maybe we should all con- sider extending an invitation to our vet’s office to come over for a visit?
Yes, come and look at the list of the things that you’ve tested. Look at the pedigree records you’ve kept. Look at all you’ve done [for your dogs], how they’re housed and how they’re cared for. Frankly, breeders are going to be some of your best clients. I go back to that, and I think that we all want an endpoint of healthy dogs. But how do we get there? It takes everyone participating together, and you can’t blockade any particular thing with a negative stereo- type and expect to have a meaningful outcome. From the stand- point of health, I think we’re starting to see some movement away from this blanket message that breeders are bad, only spay and neu- ter. We now have data. These investments in health research have led to publications and outcomes for data [that determine] what’s going to be best for the health of your dog.
And what benefits my dog will also benefit your dog?
At the end of the day, a dog is a dog. From my seat, the AKC CHF is for the health of all dogs. We work on behalf of all dogs, and what we learn from all those dogs helps other dogs. What we’ve learned from a Rhodesian Ridgeback will help a Chihuahua, and it will probably help humans as well.
The AKC CHF also works closely with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). How is this partnership beneficial to the health of all dogs?
We have a very strong relationship with the OFA that’s been growing over the years. They have grown so much beyond just being about orthopedics, you know, through the Canine Eye Reg- istration Foundation (CERF) eye exams and the cardiac exams. They are a real advocate for dog health, [particularly] with what they do with the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) pro- gram. We helped to develop the program with them and we support one another. CHIC has, I think, been critical as a place for dog breeders to go and for dog owners to go. I encourage all breeds to participate in the CHIC program because we have been able to advance the most health research for participating breeds. When breeders are willing to share samples —and when they’re banked at CHIC—they’re then accessible to our funded researchers. They’re not sitting in someone else’s freezer that you can’t access. (I have heard too many bad stories about samples lost over the years at dif- ferent university freezers.) So the OFA is really behind good health for dogs and is a good partner. I really strongly encourage all [breed clubs] to partner with them.
Twenty-five years is quite a milestone. Can you imagine what the next 25 years will hold? Where would you like veterinary medicine to be when the AKC CHF turns 50?
That’s a really good question and a powerful question. When I look at where veterinary medicine has come in 25 years, with the onset and growth in genetics and genomics technologies, we’re just now starting to see where that’s going to be applied for outcomes down the road. So, I think in another 25 years we will have eradi- cated a number of these types of cancers (or learned how to prevent them or how to treat them better). We will have improved immedi- ate diagnoses so that we know, we’re not guessing. Does this dog (or human) have Lyme disease? Is the Lyme disease causing the disease in this dog? Did we miss that it also had Babesia? That’ll be long past because we’ll have these very defined pathogen tests that are going to give us the whole spectrum of information. There’s going to be this information explosion and part of what’s going to have to
come with that is how to manage the bioinformatics. How do we manage that big data and distill it down into what is meaningful in the outcome? So there’s going to be a lot of work now that’s going to go with machine learning and artificial intelligence and that sort of big data modeling. That’s really going to blow wide open what we’ve known about disease prevalence in dogs.
That’s really exciting. How can we encourage our readers to support your programs and get the parent clubs to which they belong to support funding for research?
I would say there is something at the AKC Canine Health Foun- dation for everybody. If you want to be breed-specific in a condition that you care about in your breed, you can be as specific as that in your support. Or you can be one of those people who sees that we’ve got to tackle tick-borne diseases in dogs and you go in that direction. No longer can anybody say, “Well, they’re not doing any- thing for my breed, or their not doing anything for my dog.” That’s not true anymore. Our portfolio and our programs have grown so much. [The AKC CHF 2020 Research Grants Portfolio includes research in 24 separate program areas, including Blood Disorders, Dermatology and Allergic Disease, Endocrinology, Immunology and Infectious Disease, Musculoskeletal Conditions and Diseases, Oncology and Ophthalmology.] It takes all of us investing in this to be able to get the critical mass we need to move science forward in a big way. These clinical trials in epilepsy, in lymphoma, in hem- angiosarcoma that we’re funding with our donors, they take big resources to be able to support the research and the people who par- ticipate. For example, you talked about your sister who participated [in a lymphoma study] at her own expense. We’re trying to fund clinical trials where people can participate and help get the cost off- set to move forward. Those investments then are key to how we’re going to get real scientific data that will be measurable and have a meaningful outcome. Because, as I’ve said, the days of guessing at a diagnosis or a type of cancer are gone. We have to be specific. All of us working together, moving forward together for healthy dogs means a brighter future for all dogs and their people.
Anyone who cares about the health and well-being of dogs can support the AKC CHF (a highest 4-Star rated charity with Charity Navigator) in any number of ways, including through Memberships, Monthly Giving, and the Purina Parent Club Partnership Program. Please visit to learn more.

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